Networking and the New Follow Up
Many business professionals attend local networking groups (such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, or other professional associations) as a way of building business connections and staying involved in the community. Prior to the Internet, the only way to keep in touch with those professionals after an event was to send a note or letter, or pick up the telephone. While these methods are still valuable, now we can add email, newsletters, websites, blogs and social media to the list. Are you using all of these methods effectively to follow-up and keep in touch with the prospects, business partners and people you meet? What are some ways that you can do so in order to make your networking efforts more effective?
- Start with a thank-you: After the event, follow up within a week with a brief email or letter to the person, mentioning the event, a conversation you had, or simply that it was nice to meet them. Before you do, familiarize yourself with their website so you know more about what they do. Provide them with more information about you and your business, and ask how you can connect them to others, or offer to help them in any way. Include your signature with contact information and links to your website, blog, social media, etc. You could also do this same thing with a telephone call, or leave it in a voicemail if they don’t answer. Remember, you are not necessarily selling to them at this time (unless they requested information on your product or services). This is just a friendly touch point to re-introduce yourself and remind them of who you are. Don’t forget to scan your business cards and add them to your company database.
- Find them on social media: After following up with your connection via a short thank-you, do a quick search on the person and their company on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or Facebook. Follow or “like” their pages, or request a connection. You can do this via your personal page, business page, or both, if you choose, depending on how you have your feeds set up. This will enable you to learn more about your new connection, and stay in touch with them online. A bonus benefit is that they will typically follow or “like” you back, thus increasing your social media following.
- Engage with them on social media: If you are active on social media, and you have started following your connections and their companies, you now have instant information you can share with your followers. Use this opportunity to interact with your connections by liking, commenting and sharing on their posts. This gives you additional content other than your own blog posts, promotions and other social media posts, and results in a more well-rounded social media page for your business. Interacting with your new connections online can help you stay in front of them when they have a need for your service, or if they meet someone that they might want to refer to you. Hopefully they, in turn will do the same by sharing and commenting on your social media posts. If you don’t have time to post regularly on social media, hire a professional to post for you consistently or supplement your efforts.
Following up with new connections you meet while networking helps to make your networking efforts worthwhile. Using all of the latest tools in online marketing to keep in touch, aside from the tried and true methods, can make your efforts even more effective.