I sometimes wonder if business owners are afraid to follow up with people they meet at networking events. It seems like so many are completely gung-ho at the event, passing out cards and saying hello to as many folks as possible, yet I only hear from about 1% of the people I meet while I’m out and about. Since I started my business three years ago, it has perplexed me how few people have the follow-through to send a short e-mail just saying, “Hi. It was a pleasure to meet you at the event. I look forward to seeing you at other events in the near future.” Do they not realize this is just another touch point? Think about how many people you meet when you’re at an event. Do you remember all of them the next day? Following up is a fantastic way to put your name in front of the people you met, as well as go into detail about what you offer and how you can help them.
So what constitutes a follow-up? Well, you can call, e-mail, or send a card. Do what feels comfortable to you, and judge by if you want to meet that person again. If you think you can do business together, a phone call can be a great way to schedule a meeting. An e-mail is pretty status quo, as well as giving you the opportunity to add links to your Web site, blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. If you have Send Out Cards or another, similar system, a card can be a “step above” and really help you stand out.
No matter how you take the next step, remember to mention a few key points:
• Where you met. Some business owners network a lot, and if you don’t specify and provide a frame of reference, they may have no clue.
• If you remember something special about them, say it. “I enjoyed learning more about your son and his upcoming birthday plans.” Anything that says you listened goes a long way to building a relationship.
• Recap what you do. DO NOT SELL! The point of the follow-up is to connect and explain how you might be able to help the person, but definitely steer clear of blatantly selling anything. In my follow-up, I give a brief “about us” on my company.
• Add contact information. If you’re mailing, include a couple of business cards, via e-mail include links and phone numbers in your signature, and by phone make sure to restate your number.
Without follow-up, you’re missing a captive audience. They’ve already met you, so you know they’re open to hearing something more. And just think of how much you’ll stand out from the other 99% who didn’t follow up.