In “Networking 101,” I discussed the process of getting out and meeting people at social events. Okay, so you’ve established a rapport with a prospective customer... Now what?
This term cannot be over emphasized, it’s crucial for the relationship that you make a concerted effort to connect through one of the various forums – i.e. email, phone, social media, a letter, or in person. Being pro-active without being a nuisance is a tight rope we must walk; every situation calls for a different approach which requires your attention.
If you were an active participant in your initial meeting, you may have picked up some subtle clues that could indicate their style of communication. Here are some of those clues to look for: Did they have a smart phone? Did they look at it multiple times during your conversation? This may tell you they’re very connected and prefer electronic communication. Perhaps you noticed they were a note taker, writing on the back of your business card or a notepad. This is a good indication they like the handwritten style of communication.
These are assumptions based on what you’ve observed or remembered. The best way to know how to follow up with a new contact sounds trite, but it’s true: Simply ask them as you part ways during the initial connection, “What’s the best way to follow up with you?” Or, “Look for my email and let’s plan to meet again over coffee or lunch soon.”
How soon is too soon? That’s a subjective question. You may get varied opinions on when and how often to follow up. For me, the sooner the better, especially if it’s a casual interaction with a business card exchange. I like to send a simple email within 24 to 48 hours saying, “It was pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.” The next communication may be a week to 30 days, depending on their response, and so the dance begins. You’ll know quickly if you’ve made a good impression or not based on their reply or lack thereof.
In my opinion, this step in the networking process is vital. You’re establishing the foundation for which all communication will be handled going forward. Your level of professionalism and responsiveness will determine the future of this mutually beneficial relationship.
Craig Miller is the Founder & Director of B2B Networking Chattanooga, for more information go to: www.b2bnetworkingchattanooga.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org