Recently I came across a few business cards in my office while spring cleaning. These were people that I had met a various mixers or networking events many months ago. I kicked myself for misplacing the cards and thereby not giving myself an opportunity to reach out in a timely fashion. By now, they surely wouldn’t remember me and making a genuine connection would be nearly impossible, at least based on the encounter so many months ago.
Let’s face it, when it comes to following up with our contacts, most of us don’t like to do it, don’t think we have the time to do it, or we simply forget. This doesn’t change the fact that follow up pays off in terms of relationship cultivation and ultimately more business.
Why Follow Up?
How many mixers, membership meetings , and chamber events do you attend in a month? How many new people do you meet? How many people do you run into that you already know? Probably quite a few, and the people who are also attending these events have a similar experience. In these situations it can be challenging to make meaningful connections or to differentiate yourself. That’s where the follow up comes in.
Think about the last time you received a personal phone call or a handwritten thank you card with no other intention other than to say “nice to meet you” or “thanks for your time.” That kind of thing makes your day. Not only does a call or note make the recipient feel good, it also reminds them who you are.
Because many people think that they do not have the time for follow up or they simply don’t like doing follow up activities, those who actually follow up also differentiate themselves.
How to follow up
So how do you make a genuine connection? How do you move to a face to face meeting?
- First select your method; email, phone call or handwritten note.
- Schedule time in your calendar for follow up. Set goals for your scheduled time. “I will call 10 people on my contact list.” Or “I will send 5 letters this week.”
- The handwritten note is the most effective method your first choice contacts. Recognizing that there are only 24 hours in the day, reserve this method for your highest priority contacts, email and phone as viable secondary options.
- Pick up the phone when you need to communicate your energy and attitude. Make sure you smile and are in a good mood, as your voice will reflect your state of mind
- Use email when time is of the essence. Craft a clear and attention getting subject line to get the attention of the recipient. Email works well in conjunction with a voicemail or handwritten note to let someone know you will contact them.
Be persistent in your follow up efforts but don’t be a stalker. Common wisdom says it takes 7-8 “touches” to engage a contact. While that may work for some contacts, it won’t work for all of them. Be sensitive to this. Also, use different methods in your outreach efforts.
Remember that follow up is not strictly meant for relationship building. It’s also a tool for sustaining relationships. Be sure to check in periodically with your existing clients and contacts