A couple weeks ago I attended an outstanding social media conference – SOBCon (“SOB” stands for “Successful Online Business”) and met some amazing people. Not only did we connect at the conference but there are a LOT of people to follow up with after the conference to continue the conversations about business opportunities.
So I stopped networking.
That’s right – I needed to create real connections and opportunities so I stopped networking for a couple weeks. Here’s why:
How often do you go to a networking event, meet people and collect business cards – then go to another networking event, meet people and collect business cards – and so on?
How often do you follow up with those people? How often do they follow up with you?
Guessing your answer is “Not that often…”
The purpose of networking is to build business relationships and create results for both people – that takes time. You need a solid foundation if you want those new clients, that new job, that referral machine that builds your business and anything else you’re thinking of right now. You need to follow up to get all those things (and more).
Without follow up business cards are just paper and lost relationships (funny how often that happens in networking…) Lesson: know when to STOP (new) networking and give your current network attention.
You can start today – do you have any cards on your desk or people to touch base with? Here are…
SOME WAYS TO EFFECTIVELY FOLLOW UP:
- Connect on Facebook and/or LinkedIn (yeah, kind of obvious) BUT: When you invite the person send a personal message reminding them where you met them and why you want to connect. TEST: How often do you get personalized invitations?
- Engage people on Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter! Once you “connect” – say something! Here’s an example of one Facebook wall post that created 10+ conversations (and lead to this blog post).
- Forget the coffee (at first) and grab the phone. Don’t try to set up an hour long coffee meeting with everyone. Set up a 20 minute phone call, find a common ground and a way to help each other. THEN look into meeting in person if you have immediate opportunities to look into.
- When you get 20 business cards (we’ll assume you have them for a reason and you’re not just a random card collector) don’t put yourself in the situation to collect many more until you follow up with at least 15 of the original 20 people.
That should get you started. That should also help you create the foundation for valuable, long term relationships instead of fleeting conversations at random events.
Get out there and build the network you already have!
Who can you follow up with TODAY?
Who can you reconnect with TODAY?