Networking is all about forming and then maintaining strong connections with others in a professional setting.
Developing the Know, Like and Trust between two people is at the core of business networking and must take place all throughout the relationship.
The initial follow up after the first meeting is important as with at all times but here are some tips to ensuring that you follow up to make a good second impression:
1. Remember to make contact on social media soon after the first meeting and if you are not already connected there, send an invitation to connect on appropriate social media platforms and LinkedIn especially. This should be done within a short time frame after the initial meeting, saying something like “It was great meeting you at the BforB Event. I’d like to keep in touch about the services we discussed.”
Several reasons why it is important to connect on the social platforms is that the other person can see your social media activity, and giving another touch point initially and into the future. Remember that it is important to make as many touch points with others to keep you and your business ‘top of their mind’.
2. Be selective with whom you make that follow up connection with, don’t just gather a list of event attendees that were present and email them all. This is not the best way to begin a professional relationship as this is spam and under most cases, illegal. You need to follow up to ensure they remember you meeting each other and also to show that you are credible and a person they wish to continue to connect with. By putting them into your data base and not asking permission to send them bulk emails is the worst kind of actions you could take. If you are wanting to form important, lasting, business relationships then you need to show this respect to others.
3. Remember that within a few days and possibly a week at most, you need to send through a follow up email. The last thing you want is to meet someone that has all the services you require only to have then think: “Who was this again?” It is important to connect with them on several levels as they may not look at their social media platforms regularly or they may get so many emails in a day that they may not attend to them all. The best way is to ask them what their best form of communication is when you first meeting them. Asking this question is probably only recommended if you have agreed to follow up with each other and not if you only met for a moment at an event.
4. Before you attempt to follow up and connect, ensure you have all the correct facts and understand exactly what the other business does. If you write in your email or social media comment and have your facts wrong, this will not help with relationship building. Also, if you need IT services and accidentally spend all your time connecting with a graphic designer, you have wasted both parties time.
5. Learn to let go of uninterested potential clients. Different industries will have different interest time frames, learn what the average number of contact points is for your industry as a follow up and stick to it. No one wants to be buried under an avalanche of emails from a person who they do not want to form a relationship with or use the services of that person.
Remember that after this first meeting, these tips above will help you to get to know the person a little better. There is still the Like and Trust you must build. So, if you are wanting to form those strong business relationships where you and the other person can easily refer business to each other, continual follow up is important. Do not start by following up then forget to keep the relationship warm (or on fire). Regular touch points can help to cement this relationship so stay in touch. As your relationship strengthens, these touch points will become easier as you will want to meet up or communicate often to help each other.
Remember, the key to strong business relationships and great referral business is
FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP!