The Best of Intentions…
Do you follow up with the people you meet? This is where it generally starts to break down—and where differing thoughts about proper follow-up etiquette shows up. I have heard it pointed out that if you are not following up on these leads, it begs the question “Why are you networking?” I know I have been on both ends of this. People I have met who I have told “Please contact me, I am interested” who never followed up on my interest, and feeling overwhelmed and not taking action on my end by contacting my own “business card people.”
One practice that is generally agreed to be bad form is to collect the card, add them to your list and start sending them unsolicited emails, etc. This is a recipe for being considered a spammer. The compromise to this that I have adopted for now is to add them to my list, then send them a single email inviting them to opt into either my blog, newsletter and/or schedule a strategy session. Even framing it as an invitation draws an occasional complaint, so this will probably change. If they don’t opt in, that’s the end of it. They may get a call from me, but no email unless it comes up later.
There is no single right way, but having a system that you stick to makes a big difference. Be organized and sort your cards according to priority—hot leads within 48 hours, low priority within three weeks, the rest, such as referral partners, somewhere in between. Remember that it’s not a time to pounce and essentially say “buy my stuff,” but rather an opportunity to build a relationship, getting to know them a bit better and see how you might be able to help each other.
Doing some research and/or personalizing your follow-up is always a good idea. Also, don’t forget “snail mail” as an option. A handwritten note can make a strong positive impression.
Not everyone is going to be interested. One source suggests no more than three attempts, perhaps using two different methods. Don’t be a stalker! If you are making calls be prepared to have a conversation! This sounds obvious, but I have heard of those who purposely make calls at off-hours so they can leave a voicemail and not interact.
Relationships are the foundation of business success.
To your business success!