In my last blog I was rather critical of the way a couple of people had followed up networking events so today, as promised, I want to share some ideas for doing it well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be Mrs. Perfect here, I’m sharing lessons learned from other people as well as my own experience.
I know it’s easy to get sidetracked by the day job but following up after a networking event is essential. If people have shown interest in us and we fail to follow up we are leaving opportunities on the table. If we have promised to do something for somebody and we fail to do it why should they believe anything else we say?
However when we meet a lot of people in a short space of time it can be very easy to forget what we agreed with whom, so make a note of what you agreed as soon as you possibly can. Put it in your smart phone, in your diary or notepad or on the person’s business card, then add it to your to do list as soon as you can.
If you go to a lot of networking events in a short space of time it can be all too easy to forget whom you met where, especially when you are not given an attendance list. I find it helpful to prepare an envelope in advance. I put the name of the event and the date on the envelope, together with a note reminding myself what I promoted in my 60 seconds and then I put all the cards I picked up at the event in the envelope. That way I can make sure that my follow up is relevant and accurate. This tip is particularly useful if you delegate the follow up emails to someone else.
Regular readers will know that this is a common theme in my blogs. We are all governed by self interest in one way or another. The temptation therefore is to go on about what we have to offer but have you ever been stuck at an event where the person you’ve just met only talks about themselves? How do you feel? Frustrated? Angry? You want to escape as soon as possible. Don’t make this mistake in your follow up.
Make the opening paragraph of your follow up email about the person you met. Highlight something they said that could be of interest. Give them some information that could be useful. Offer a helpful introduction. By now they are thinking well of you and are ready to read about your offer.
Keep it brief. Remind them what you talked about at the event, include a link for further information. That link might go to your website, your Facebook page, your blog or your Twitter account. Make it easy for them to follow up your conversation. If you found a lot of common ground you could suggest meeting for a one to one. If the connection wasn’t so strong consider inviting them to link up with you on Twitter, Facebook or your preferred social media. The idea is to work at building the relationship so whatever works best for you but make it clear what you would like the person to do.
A word of warning!
If somebody gives you their business card it is not an invitation to add them to your database and bombard them with newsletters, offers and anything else that takes your fancy. In the UK we have strong electronic privacy regulations, so do many other countries. People need to opt in to receiving your emails. In my view if someone gives you their business card they are giving you permission to follow up once or twice. Ask them if you can add them to your mailing list and make it easy for them to respond. In my latest follow up email I gave people a link to reply on with a simple ‘Yes Please’ as the subject. It worked, some have signed up.
A good rule of thumb is to do unto others what you would like others to do to you. Ask yourself. ‘if someone I had met today sent me this email what would I think of them?’ If the answer is ‘I’d think how friendly but professional they were and I’d like to get to know them better’ then you have got your follow up right.
Do you have any tips of things that have worked for you? Please feel free to share them here.