Networking takes time.
Like I’ve said before, you don’t network with the intention of selling. You proceed with the intention of building meaningful relationships that allow you to give and receive referrals over time.
But before you can begin to build meaningful relationships, you first have to get in front of the person outside of that networking event. To do that, you have to follow up ASAP!
After just about every networking event, I come back to the office with a ton of business cards. It can be overwhelming meeting some many people, so it’s important to go through their cards and make notes as who was the most relevant to you. Jot down something unique about that person or what you learned about them by taking to them to help you have a personal connection with them later on. This could be a pet, children, major life events like graduations or newborns, or something about their business.
As you review your cards, also make notes as to who may be able to add some value to you.
People worth keeping in contact with should:
- have potential partnership opportunities
- share common interests
- be anyone you believe who can be instrumental in helping you achieve success
Once you’ve completed this process, you have to actually use the cards. Your follow up is key in maximizing the initial interaction you had with someone. It’s best to start step one within 24 to 48 hours. The sooner the better.
Having a fast follow-up will ensure that the conversation is still fresh in the other person’s mind. Strike while the iron is hot by sending an email or phone call. Give them a friendly reminder of where you met them and let them know that you’d like to continue the conversation. This is an email follow up cheatsheet to help you out.
Connect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great tool that allows you and your connections to stay on each other’s radar. You can also use social media profiles to learn about the other person’s likes and interests. You may also be able to find out wedding or company anniversaries. These occasions are the perfect opportunity to reach out, show that you remember them, and stay connected.
Side note: If you don’t get together soon after you’ve met, LinkedIn will let you know when they have a job anniversary or birthday. It’s a great icebreaker for another follow-up.
One to One
Again, be clear on what you want to happen. If you want to have coffee, state exactly that, along with a suggested time, date, and place. You should also be clear on what your intentions are. Let them know if you would like to learn more about their business or maybe learn more about the different organizations they’re a part of. You may want to discuss what a partnership would entail. Whatever the case, state your true intentions.
Connect Them With Someone Else
When you have a meaningful conversation with a person, you are actually talking to their entire network. The phrase “everybody knows somebody” is true, and somewhat of an understatement. It’s more like everybody knows at least a couple hundred people.
After you’ve gotten to know someone, you should become more intentional about how you refer them business and who you connect them with.
For example, say someone you know needs their basement remodeled. You know someone who specializes in not only in basement remodels, but interior design as well. You should make that specific connection.
You can also help people form symbiotic relationships. This is when the relationship is mutually beneficial for each person involved. I like to think of it as individuals who can connect you to your target market.
Another example would be if a struggling freelance designer is in need of more work. In this case, you could pair them with a company who outsources their work.
Go The Extra Mile
Aside from connecting individuals to one another for business purposes, try to help them personally. This doesn’t have to be deep or life changing. For instance, if the person mentioned that they are a foodie, send them an article of the cities top restaurants. From time to time, you may send a hand written note, or do something that indicates you were thinking of them.
Following up seems to be a lost art. If you complete these steps, you will be well on your way to building meaningful relationships. Remember, it’s important to have some form of communication at least once a month. Reach out and schedule another One to One or invite them to another networking event.
Please share some of your own follow-up tactics in the comment section below!