In the last article in this series, we defined effective networking as the process of building and nurturing lasting relationships. What are you doing to ensure that you are an effective networker?
Let’s say you attended a meeting of your local Chamber of Commerce this morning, met some new people and had some interesting conversations. Maybe you want to learn more about a particular business, or perhaps you even met someone who’s not ready for your service yet, but for whom it might be perfect in six months. Now what?
Follow-up is where a lot of networkers fall down. They leave an event feeling reasonably good about how it went, and that’s where it ends. They forget that networking is all about relationships. And relationships don’t develop on their own.
Here are just a few ways to ensure that you realize maximum benefits from your networking efforts:
Follow up with contacts within two days by phone, e-mail or hand-written notes. Invite them to lunch or coffee to continue a conversation or to learn more about how you can help them.
- Be a connector. If you think two people should meet, introduce them to each other. What they do next is up to them, but if they connect they’ll remember you as the person who introduced them.
- Be a resource. If you promised to send information, make sure you send it. If you come across an article or event that could be of interest to someone, tell them about it.
- Make good use of your contact database and if you don’t have one, set one up. Develop a system for entering and categorizing the business cards you collect. Then communicate with the members of your database regularly, through an e-newsletter or other means.
There are countless ways to follow up and stay in touch with your contacts. Figure out which ones work for you and your business and then commit to them. You might be surprised by the results.
Watch for the next article when we’ll talk about why you can’t afford not to network.