Networking: Why you need to follow up

I’ve written about the death of the business card before, but I’ll say it again. How many business cards have you collected at a meeting and ignored?

There they are in a growing heap on your desk, or in your drawer.

Gathering dust.

Do you honestly remember the person you met?  Do you know why you took their card?  Do you know what they actually DO?

Have you ever made further contact with any of these people? have you added them to your email contact list?  Are they in your phone memory?

No?? Then why are you keeping their cards?

You need to stay in touch with these people – regardless of the result.  If you don’t get any response from the person – then fine.  At least you made contact.

Networking is only Networking if you keep in contact with the person you met.  it might be through LinkedIn, it might be via email.  At least you kept in touch.  And they might

They might have lost your card.  An email from you makes it easy for them to reconnect with you.

 

imageThey might have some business to give you.  After my trip to the women in business conference in Las Vegas in June, I emailed every contact from every business card I’d received.  At the event, I told them that I would add them to my newsletter so if they forgot to respond to me, then they would get to hear from me every month.  There might be business from making this initial effort.  I know it works because I’ve already been approached about a possible UK / US partnership because I followed up straight after the event!

My approach to this type of networking is simple

I meet someone new, have a chat to them about their business, tell them about what I do

We exchange cards, and I tell them that I’m going to add them to the list to receive my newsletter

I email them shortly after I’ve met them.  I remind them of the conversation we had at the event.  I tell them again what I do as a business putting it into context for their business.

I put their contact details into Outlook

Then I throw their card away

If they respond – all well and good, if they don’t respond, then after a while, I’ll move their contact details into a different contact folder names ‘Inactive’.  If they get in touch after a while, then I still have their details.  but I still throw their cards away…

Following up shows that the customer or the connection matters to you.  You cared enough to get in touch, you cared enough to make the connection.  If you’re running a small business, that new connection could lead to a new piece of business for you.  You never know.

Throwing the card away will get rid of that ever increasing pile on your desk – and might bring you the connection or business opportunity you’ve been looking for…

Image credit: Flickr 

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for BusinessContact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.