Why do so many people struggle with following up after a networking event, promotional merchandise campaign or a trade show? Statistics say only 12% of people follow up with contacts. So just by getting in touch, you are already standing out from the other 88%. It really is not too difficult and after all, a lot of the hard work and expense has already been put in. Yet many people attend one networking event, trade show or send a gift and expect business to start flowing. And when it doesn’t they say these techniques don’t work, rather than their own lack of post event effort!
Let’s take a step back. It is all about relationships, and it’s unrealistic to think that by giving someone your business card or a branded gift they will suddenly be encouraged to buy your stuff, unless you are very lucky and they need what you buy at that very moment and don’t know anyone else who sells it.
Know, Like and Trust.
People will work with and refer business to people that they know, like and trust. The conversation and business card or gift should be treated as the beginning of building that relationship, not job done! The stronger you genuinely build the relationship, the greater the likelihood of people working together. Instead of thinking of following up as a chore, think of it as the start of a new relationship. A chance to gain a new contact, customer or even friend.
So how should you follow up with them?
Well this will really depend on what you have promised to do. If during your conversation you said I will email/call tomorrow, then that is what you need to do. If you are at a trade show and you already have 100 people to get in touch with, tell them a time when you will realistically be able to get in touch. No one likes to be let down, so just manage their expectations. It is far better to be honest and say, I will be in touch by the end of the week, if this is realistically what you can do. You have given yourself time and they know what to expect. You are not left feeling guilty as you know you should have got back to them, but haven’t and they are not left disappointed as you said you would get in touch and didn’t. We have probably all had the date who said they would call and you are still waiting! No one likes that feeling, unless you see them 15 years later and the years have not been kind! Then you can give a rye smile.
Make it personal.
However, you decide to follow up make it personal. Make sure you have taken a few notes about the conversation. Bring them up in the conversation to show you listened and to remind them of your conversation. They will have probably spoken to lots of people as well. I try to take a note of what they were wearing if it makes them stand out or if I found something in common with them (e.g. red jumper or they have a lurcher). This helps me to remember them amongst the many other conversations I’ve had. Look them up on social media and their website, this will give you a further insight into them. If you are making a call after sending a branded gift then you should already know quite a bit about them and their company.
A Box Full of Business Cards.
But whatever you do, no matter how you communicate don’t make things up, as you will just lose credibility and trust. You are far better just to stick to the facts you know. I have found the best way for me to follow up with contacts, whether from gifts we have been sent or from networking is to have a check list. It may seem lengthy for each person I meet, but it saves the scatter gun approach and the chance of missing things. I connect with them on social media, get in touch with them and add their details to my CRM system with notes about them and a note of when to follow up. This is not something I have always done, I did have a box full of business cards at one point, but I have learnt from others and found by making the most of each contact I have, it gives me and my business the best possible chance of success. This may be actual business, referrals or people who I can help along the way.
It should Never Be #BuyMyStuff
It should never be and never will be for me, hi buy my stuff. I have been sold to a few times at networking events, you know the ones where you can’t get a word in edge ways. They are always memorable, but never for the right reasons.
Just Save Time, Money and Effort
So in conclusion if you do not follow up effectively, you may as well not bother with making contact in the first place. You can just save time, money and effort. You are just filling time with fruitless tasks to make you feel like you are busy and productive. It never is and never will be the job of a potential customer to build and nurture a relationship with you. That is your job!
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