Last week, we looked at how to categorize your networking contacts in a way that works for you. Now, let’s talk about how you can follow up effectively with your new contacts. I’ll use my system as an example, since it works well for me, and you can use these ideas to develop your own system.
Meeting people at networking functions is the easy part, since everyone is there for the same purpose; it’s staying in touch with them after that can be challenging. This is where many people get nervous, unsure what the boundaries are and how to be assertive without being a pain in the neck.
- The initial contact. After I categorize my new contacts into Contact Sphere, Joint Venture, Friendly Competition, and Potential Clients, I take the time to follow up with everyone via e-mail within one week. I have a form e-mail that I’ve created specifically for this, with blank fields I can fill in with personalized details. I’ll mention where and when I met the person, recall details of our conversation, and remind them of who I am.
In this e-mail, I clearly invite the person to sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on LinkedIn, or respond via e-mail (or all three). Some people take the liberty of adding new contacts to their e-mail lists right away; often, they’ll send the new contact an e-mail with a note explaining that “I’ve added you to my newsletter/mailing list/blog, but I won’t be offended if you unsubscribe.”
- Getting to know you. Once you have a reply, you might consider scheduling a phone call or face-to-face meeting with your new contact to chat about possibilities for this connection. Or, you might simply connect with them on LinkedIn. However, before you take the easy way out, remember that people are 10 times more likely to remember a face-to-face conversation than they are a virtual one, and 5 times more likely to remember a phone conversation than an e-mail. In other words, it’s not just connecting, but how you connect that matters.
When I meet someone face to face for coffee or lunch, I always take the time to send a handwritten thank you note I had made with my logo on it.
- Connect on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource because it allows to you see, at a glance, your new connection’s contact sphere. If there’s someone in that sphere who you think would be helpful to you, you can ask your new contact for an introduction. Now that we’re doing things virtually, asking for this favor isn’t as much of an imposition as it once was. However, I’ve had more success calling the contact first and ask them how well they know the contact and let them know you will be sending an introduction request via linkedin. If you are doing this and you are not getting responses, it’s either because your contact doesn’t know the person well enough to refer you, or your contact is not really active on linkedin. Or people are just plain busy and it’s not a priority, don’t take it personal, it’s not about you. Pick up the phone and follow up. I believe it was Jeffrey Gitomer, who said 75% of sales happen after the 6th call.
- Stay in touch. People have to see something 21 times before it sticks in their mind. This is why television advertising is so effective. The same principle applies here: the more times your new contact sees your name in print or on screen, the more likely they are to think of you when something in your field comes their way.
One question that often arises is that of persistence. How many times should you try to reach out to a contact before you give them up for lost? The answer is… It depends.
Networking doesn’t have to be hard work, make if fun. Out of ten people I reached out to last week, only one replied directly to me via e-mail. I followed up with the group again and ended up meeting four others in person, which led to three more introductions.
As a recruiter, I pursued Fidelity Investments for a year and a half before I won the contract able to place my people in their in-house advertising department. They kept having turnover and everytime I had a new contact, three months later, someone else was in charge. I ended up placing their highest-paid Creative Director at the time. A few years later, my contact who use to work at Fidelity, searched my name on line and called me looking for help and complimenting on what I did job I did back then.
How many times you follow up is a matter of personal choice. I usually send two or three e-mails and/or phone calls to potential contacts after I meet them. If I don’t hear something from them—an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, an e-mail, a note on Facebook—I tear up their business card. After all, there’s persistence, and then there’s wasting your time.
If you need help sorting through the networking process, feel free to give me a call. After all, I’ve been there. You might even drop me into your contact sphere!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEBSITE? Please do, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Dawn Quesnel, CPCC, PCC, known as Coach DQ, is a professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader. Through the use of her B.R.I.D.G.E. programs she helps marketing, advertising, and creative entrepreneurs navigate career or business transition while maintaining a healthy career-life balance. Her core belief that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, consistently leads clients to uncover hidden resources and strengths. B.R.I.D.G.E. the gap and accelerate your career so you can love your life now! Visit www.CareerLifeBalance.net or http://www.coachdq.com today or for more information email me.
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