Networking is a great way to open doors to new business opportunities, whether looking for a job or new clients and vendors in your industry. Tradeshows, meet ups, seminars and other industry-related events are the best venues for making new contacts and starting the journey to new business partnerships. However, people typically have a limited amount of time at these events and can sometimes be overwhelmed with the amount of meetings and new faces they encounter. Thus, following up is critical to the success of a future relationship.
Below are some tips on how to follow up in a way that will help you accomplish your goals without annoying potential partners or future employers.
1) Have a plan.
Before wasting someone’s time with a follow up call or email, identify what kind of relationship you want with this person or their company. You may have interviewed with them and you want to know where you stand amongst the other applicants. On the contrary, you may be in a situation where you want your companies to work together moving forward. Regardless of your reason for reaching out, you should have a clear goal in mind and spend the majority of your energy building a relationship that will help you reach said goal.
2) Refresh their memory.
Don’t assume that someone will remember you, no matter how much of an impact you think you made. When you follow up, remind the person of who you are, where you work, what you spoke about and any other relevant information that might reinforce their recollection of you. If you save them the trouble of trying to remember the specifics, they can focus on why you’re reaching out and what they might gain from responding.
3) Schedule a time to speak or meet again.
You may not have had much time to talk during your initial introduction. When you follow up, nail down a time in the near future when you can have a detailed discussion about a potential partnership or employment opportunity. In doing so, your follow up can be quick and concise, allowing you to prepare for a more in-depth conversation down the road.
4) Pursue your goal.
When you finally have the opportunity to discuss in-length about the business relationship you and your counterpart could form, remind yourself of why you want to work with this person. Go into the meeting with your goal at the forefront of your thoughts and pursue the type of partnership you seek. This second meeting could potentially seal the fate of your future success – make the most of it!
5) Ask them if you should stop following up.
In some cases, your follow up email or phone call will be ignored. You have the option of reaching out through a different avenue. If you made a phone call, try an email or sending a message on social media. However, if multiple efforts go ignored or get a lackluster response, you could always ask the person if you should stop following up altogether. This approach will have two possible outcomes. One, the person may let you down easy and agree to not pursue a business relationship at that time. Two, the person may give you the attention you’ve wanted. They may have had you in the back of their mind but dealt with other priorities first. Now that you’ve taken a stance, they may make a better effort to move things forward so that they don’t miss out on the opportunity of working with you.
Mastering the art of following up will take time. In any case, you should be polite and respectful of a person’s time when using the above process. Sending an email every day until the person responds may annoy them so balance out your efforts. It is also important to be yourself – don’t be overtly professional or too casual if it’s not your natural style. With enough experience and a healthy set communication skills, meeting new faces and closing new deals will come naturally.