One of the reasons you're in business is to make money. Leads and enquiries may well turn into paying customers, so you ought to be hell-bent on following up with them all, right?
And if you're not doing this, then what mindless excuse are you giving to people (or worse, yourself) to make up for it?
A point that even I've been known to dismiss sometimes: If people are willing to engage with you, and have happily taken your business card from you at a networking event, then it point-blank tells you that they are ready (practically, waiting!) to develop a business relationship.
All my past advice about successful networking means nothing if you fail to ‘follow up' after an event. If you're unsure of how to do this without seeming like a needy stalker then read on, my 3 basic pointers will help.
1. Email Them
And by ‘email', I mean something other than a generic subscription form or PDF copy of your company's profile. In fact, this is exactly what you shouldn't be doing.
Draft a short message that is both personal and business-savvy. You'll need to draw upon the conversation you had with your associate at the networking event; remember the ‘little details' if you really want to impress them. Do they have a nickname they prefer to be addressed as? Did they mention a specific project, whilst you were in conversation?
It was a pleasure meeting you at the ABC event last night. I hope this email finds you well, and that you've managed to recover from your son's 5th birthday party.
I'm going to be around the city centre next week, and would love to meet you for a coffee to speak more about the Cambridge project...'
Notice how I've already presumed that Steve is willing to meet me for a coffee next week. My call-to-action is clear and I haven't waffled on too much with unnecessary ‘ifs' and ‘buts'. Also, the fact that I've mentioned his son's birthday party, is sure to win me additional brownie points.
What's that they say? ‘Make it easy for the client to say YES'.
2. Make Friends with Them
Social media makes life so much easier for us. It's important not to overstep the boundary here; remember that platforms like Facebook and Instagram are personal for some, so you may be better off with sticking to LinkedIn first.
The thing is, business relationships don't magically blossom once two people have connected on social media. There needs to be a follow-up, to this follow-up. So, send your new business pal a hearty message (this one can be a little softer than an email) and then make an effort to engage with their posts, where appropriate.
LinkedIn is perfect for notifying you about a connection's proposal at work, or any other business-related achievement. These are golden opportunities for you to step in, and nurture your professional relationships, even more.
3. Call Them
It's hard to believe, but before the breakthrough of the internet, the most widely-used means of communication was speaking over the phone. I often find that text messaging and emails has replaced a good old-fashioned conversation, and business people are somewhat reluctant to pick up the phone.
Not only is it more time-effective (as you're not having to sit at your computer, waiting for a response), you'll find that telephone conversations are far more personal. Your contact is more likely to remember you and your discussion, after hearing your voice first-hand.
So, when you attend The Business Networking Show on September 15th, remember that being armed with a load of business cards is going to be of little benefit, if you haven't utilised them in the correct manner. The same applies with simply ‘turning up', speaking to people, and making no attempt to initiate a follow-up after.
Don't let yourself down at the very last stage. By being proactive and on-the-ball, you'll stand out from your competitors and prove to your associates that you really mean business.