In networking, follow-up is the key to success for many reasons. Many people assume that meeting people and exchanging business cards will lead directly to business referrals and strategic introductions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is only through consistent and varied follow-up and follow-through that you will build meaningful and fruitful relationships. After meeting people for the first time, you can do a number of things to follow up with them. Some are the following: invite them to join LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, send a simple follow-up e-mail, or make a phone call and invite them for coffee. One reason that follow-up is so critical is related to memory. We often meet so many people in our busy lives, that the new people kind of “erase the memory” of others we have met earlier. People need to be reminded that we exist. There is also the tendency to get so excited when meeting new people that we neglect or minimize the ones we have met earlier. Follow-up not only applies to the networking process,but also the sales process. If you are one of several people competing for business, the client may forget you unless you do something meaningful, impactful, or useful by way of follow-up. Don’t merely contact the client to find out if they have made a decision. Try to find something of value that you can contribute with each succeeding contact.
There have been many times when I have followed up with someone, and found out that they were currently reviewing the proposals, had some questions for me, and I was able to secure the contract primarily because of timely follow-up. You can call, send e-mails, or even find a significant reason to have an additional meeting to discuss the details of your proposal/bid. Networking doesn’t end with the exchange of business cards at a mixer. It’s what you do afterward that really matters. So too with trying to secure business. It is the consistent, strategic follow-up that is often the deciding factor in who gets the contract.
Make follow-up an integral part of your networking and sales program. Without it people will forget you and do business with those who do.