One of the biggest mistakes the business professionals make after networking events is not following up properly.
We often walk away from the networking event with a pocket full of business cards but they often do little but take up space on our desk, begin collecting dust, and then end up in the trash can. There is no good reason for this as most people at networking events are looking to build new business relationships but the fact of the matter is, if you don't have an effective follow-up system, networking can wind up being unproductive work.
Developing a system for following up can be as simple as sending an e-mail to every person that you've met and filing away their business card, or it can be more complex involving a three or four step system that includes an e-mail, a phone call, a greeting card or other type of physical mailing, and a request for an appointment. The process is totally up to you what is important to get one in place and follow it consistently.
Here are some simple tips for you to remember when following up with folks that you meet at networking events:
1. Be sure to take notes at the time of the initial meeting
When meeting new business prospects for the first time, is a good idea to jot some information on the back of their business card or on another piece of paper that you can keep with that card. This information can be incredibly valuable when following up with them. You'll be able to refer to some specifics contained in the conversation that you had and impress them with your ability to pay attention and make them feel special.
2. Following up quickly is crucial
No matter what we think about ourselves, the people we meet may not remember us that well as time wanes on. It is important to follow up with people that you meet within 48 hours to ensure that that memory is still vivid in their mind and they themselves can recall some bits of information of what you spoke about. While this can certainly be in the form of an e-mail, a quick phone call is often the best way to get a positive response. Let them know that you understand they are busy and you don't want to take their time, but simply wanted to call and tell him how much you enjoyed speaking with them and that it would be fantastic if you could get together in the future to do a one on one to get more info about their business and what it is that they do.
3. Look for referrals
One of the best ways to make an impression on someone that you've just met is to offer them the gift of a quality referral. When looking at the business cards of the people that you've recently met, search for people that you might be able to refer business to your existing network of business relationships, friends, and family. By offering a referral you're setting the stage for quality business relationship. More often than not, that person will remember this gesture and try to return the favor to you as well. The fact of the matter is that turning your new business relationships into referral sources is far more important than trying to get them to buy from you anyways.
Again, one of the most important aspects of following up is simply TO DO IT! So many fail to do this and this results in missed opportunity each and every day. Meeting new people for the sake of doing business is only valuable when you take the time to follow up. Following the tips above can help you do it more often and more effectively.