There are few things more closely tied to success in the world of business than efficient and effective networking. Networking may seem on the surface to be entirely social and personal- bumping shoulders with colleagues at dinner parties or enjoying lunch meetings in gourmet coffee shops, getting together for a round of golf- but real success is just as much, if not more, about the impersonal. Follow-ups are an art form, the difference between a scintillating conversation and a long-term business partner.
Now that fall is rapidly approaching, following-up effectively on all the potential clients and partners you met over the summer should be front and centre. With that in mind, here's BNIGTA's barebones basics guide to the post-summer follow-up.
First, start with a purpose. Be clear, concise, and direct. Who are you? Where did you meet one another? What did you talk about? As I'm sure you are aware, well-connected individuals in the business community likely met with dozens if not hundreds of people over the course of their summer and unless you made a heck of an impression they may well have forgotten a good deal of your interaction. Even if that's not the case, and you sold them on yourself, your business, or your project from day one, it doesn't hurt to go back over these essential details to refresh their memory and remind them why you captivated their attention in the first place.
Assume that the individual to whom you are writing has forgotten you and your pitch entirely and in re-selling yourself you'll only strengthen your position.
Be sure to follow up on multiple channels as well. It's all too easy to shoot off a quick follow-up Email after meeting and think you've done your diligence, but modern technology affords us many more opportunities than that. If you've sent an Email and haven't heard back after a reasonable amount of time, text them, call them, tweet at them or send them a message on LinkedIN. You want to be aggressive but not pushy or spammy, you don't want to annoy a potential partner with an endless onslaught of communication, but you do want to do whatever it takes to get their attention. You will rarely have cause to regret following-up with someone too often, but regretting not putting enough effort into making a connection or a deal happen is all too common and easily avoidable.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, be memorable. As we already mentioned, well-connected individuals receive an overwhelming amount of follow-up communication, especially this time of year, so do something to make yourself stand out. Try using graphics or attaching a personal video to your follow up Email, send someone a hand-written note, send them a gift card to your favourite coffee house along with an invitation to meet over a hot or cool beverage. There are an endless number of ways you can make yourself stand out, and you'll need to leverage your ingenuity in employing a good number of them to get a leg up on your competition.
Have any further general questions about following-up? Looking for advice on your specific situation? Reach out to us. Thanks, and good luck. Here's hoping you won't need it.