Whether you’ve been attending networking meetings or social business functions, you probably have a pocket full of contacts and haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do with them.
However, even the best connections can quickly become obsolete if you can’t imagine what they can do for or you for them.
A business event can be the perfect jumping-off point for starting a long-term professional relationship. In order to develop and strengthen that bond, you need to follow-up in a timely manner. With the clock ticking soon after you meet, your first communication should really be within 24 hours of that introduction.
Here are 9 ways to make those connections count: (Guest Post)
1. Send an Email
Timing is everything when it comes to your follow-up. To stay fresh in a person’s mind after a meeting, send a simple email stating that you enjoyed meeting them. Look back on what you chatted about and personalize your greeting to reflect certain comments you may have discussed; whether it was their business, a child’s baseball championship or previous vacation.
Be sure to indicate that you would love to continue your conversation in look forward to setting up a time to grab breakfast or a quick cup of coffee. The contents of your email doesn’t have to be long or winded.
2. Be Genuine
The tone of your email is just as critical to your timing when making a follow-up. Canned responses will only get your note deleted when you’re really trying to connect. Before you send a follow-up note, you want to take into consideration their style of communication.
While one person may email, others may be more receptive to social media or texts. Phone calls may seem obsolete, but it might be an excellent way to reach the person quickly and personally. If they gave you their business card, they shouldn’t be offended by a call to their direct line.
3. Connect with LinkedIn
Sometimes, making new contacts at a variety of business events can be a great way to generate new leads. However, it can be confusing to keep track of your new connections.
LinkedIn provides a number of free tools that will help keep your contacts front and center. It can also keep track of work anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions that will prompt you to send a follow-up note. It also notifies your circles with important career accolades and changes, such as a promotion.
4. Create Reminders
After you’ve followed-up your initial meeting with an email, phone conversation or other method of contact, you should set up reconnect reminders. Whether you arrange for reminders to pop up in your email or you write them down in your calendar, these quick notes can help you determine when it’s time to follow up again.
Reminders might include an invitation to a new networking event, scheduling a dinner to catch up and chat, or simply sending them another email.
5. Remember Special Occasions
LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media tools can make it easy for you to stay in touch with your new contacts. For example, if one of your leads is celebrating an anniversary with their partner, or they have a birthday coming up, you can reach out and send them celebratory wishes.
Simple gestures will go a long way really, and even more so if your note is handwritten and mailed to them.
6. Offer Your Assistance
When you meet new people, it’s important to get as much information from them as possible, in a natural manner. People love the opportunity to talk about themselves, and when given the chance they may actually divulge a lot of information.
Take the opportunity to infuse an offer of your assistance. Whether they have a college-aged child looking for their first job or they need a good handyman who can tackle their backyard deck, you can follow up with resources.
While you may not be able to solve all of their problems, simple tasks such as passing on their child’s resume or offering them a number of a good builder builds integrity and can lead to a future business relationship.
7. Set up a Meeting
Once you’ve made the connection and followed up with someone new, it’s time to set up a meeting. Make your intentions known before the appointment, so they can plan accordingly.
The place you choose to chat should also be more conveniently located and easily accessible for your connection, when possible. Instead of forcing your agenda, you want to give them the opportunity to ask more questions about what your business can do for them.
Whether you’re sending your newfound friend an email about a great software or talking about the baseball game that your children were in, timeliness is where it’s at for mastering the art of the follow-up. Stay in contact with people, and the doors will open for you.
About the author:
CJ Silva is currently the Vice President of Operations for Kova Corporation. CJ has been the driving force behind many of Kova’s portfolio expansions, including the award of multiple patents for their SilentPartner Mobile platform. He is recognized in both public safety and private sector contact centers as a subject matter expert in the design, deployment, and enhancement of call recording solutions.