You had a great conversation with someone at a networking event, exchanged business cards, promised you’d follow up with each other, but never did. Does this sound familiar?
If you haven’t realized by now how slim the chances are that you’ll get a referral or be hired by someone you spoke to one time for five minutes, let me be the one to break it to you. Count your blessings if it happens, but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t.
If you go to event after event collecting business cards but never taking the relationship beyond that, why waste time going at all? While not everyone you meet will be a good candidate for an extended follow up conversation, don’t let those promising prospects and partners slide by.
Let’s take a big step today to change that. Here’s a simple 5-step formula you can implement right away to turn those initial conversations at your next networking event into profitable collaborations:
1) Initiate contact. 97% of people who ask for my card never do anything with it. So if you want to push the relationship forward, YOU have to take the action. For me, a follow-up email, rather than a phone call, is one of my favorite ways to rekindle the conversation. Another effective technique is to send a LinkedIn invitation. Either way, the person can reply back at a time that’s convenient for them, and if you follow the next 4 steps of this formula, you’ll increase your chances of a favorable response.
2) Jog their memory. It’s a good idea to reference your initial meeting so they remember who you are within the first sentence or two of the email. Even better is to show that you were a good listener by mentioning something they talked about. For example: “Jim, I enjoyed meeting you at the cocktail reception at the XYZ networking event last Thursday, and hearing about the successes you’ve been having this year with launching into a new market.”
3) Connect the dots. Next, say why you think it makes sense to continue the conversation. Do you have some ideas to offer, some resources or connections? Do you see some natural synergies and think there may be ways to work together for mutual benefit? You may not have something to offer until you get to know more about their business, and that’s perfectly okay. But if you do, just know that you’ll be way ahead of the game.
4) Propose a low-barrier next step. Early on in my business as I was building my network and working to get better known in my local market, I frequently proposed a face-to-face meeting as the very next follow-up step after meeting someone at an event. Now I prefer to suggest a 15-minute phone call which is a lower barrier for both of us and can be just as effective if you have a clear agenda and process for the conversation.
5) Make it a win-win. Be sure to position this next step as a way to get to know each other’s businesses and goals, and uncover ways you might be able to help. That way, the other person will feel there will be something in it for them, and it won’t be about sitting through a one-sided sales pitch.
Now, after you’ve scheduled the follow up and had the conversation, are you ready for what happens next? Listen in on my Smart Networking Shift call “You’ve Had Lunch…Now What??? Keys to Profitable Follow-Up” with guest expert Adrian Miller to find out.
© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLCWANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online, shows accomplished business professionals how to connect to the right people and attract the opportunities they deserve. To become a more visible leader in your organization or industry, visit www.LizLynchOnline.com.”