When I started my business I immediately begin attending networking events. I was attending events three, sometimes five days out of the week thinking this was going to help my business get noticed. Well, little did I know that networking and meeting people was just part of the equation. Yep, I was in the building and I even spoke to a few people because I am a social bug.
However, all that socializing didn’t get my business noticed not because I didn’t mention my business, but because I failed to do the most important part of the networking equation. That part that was not told to me when I started my business. Follow -up! That’s right. This revelation came when I was invited to attend a National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) meeting and heard the most important phrase which is the back bone of networking “Follow-up". Suddenly it clicked and immediately I knew why I had failed to get myself and my business noticed at all those other events, I attended. I had failed to follow-up. I had attended numerous networking events, handed out dozens of my business cards, collected just as many business cards, rehearsed my elevator pitch, took pictures with other business owners, then went home and planned to attend the next hottest network event, but never thought to follow-up.
Now that the light bulb has come on, here are some tips to help you network effectively.
- Once you take a business card, write a brief note on the back about the person. This will help to make your follow up more personable and help you remember who is associated with that card because after collecting a few cards once you get home you won’t remember any particulars about the person. Be personable. Yes, they want to hear about what you do but they also want to know the person behind the business. You don’t have get deep. Just be yourself. I often share a story about my day or my children.
- Don’t try to talk to everyone in the building it will be impossible to follow up with everyone. Don’t talk to the person more than 10mins. Just like you they are looking to network with others so are they so be respectful of their time.
- Follow up within 24 hours and no they don’t want you blowing up their cell phone. The preferred method is an email. If you would like to speak with them more say so in the email and schedule time. If you don’t get a response within a week you can send a follow-up e-mail or give the contact a call. Let’s face it, people get tons of email and it is easy to overlook one. This follow up is not for you to push your services, but for you to let them know that it was nice meeting them at the event (always name the event) and that you hope to be able to work with them in the near future. Another valuable lesson