When you’re out networking for your business or other activity, it’s very easy to chat to someone, take their card and say you’ll drop them a note about this or that. And then forget all about it once you get back home or to your office and get overwhelmed by 18,000 other urgent things you need to do.
Maybe, you look through your notes two or three weeks later and respond then.
But hey – either of these can be very bad news for your reputation, image, brand and quite a few other things.
Why you need to write to business networking contacts sooner rather than later
Just as you will probably forget much of what you have learned about a new business or other contact at a networking event after a few weeks, they are in exactly the same position.
The longer it is before they hear from you after having met you, the less likely it is they will remember the conversation they had with you, who you are, and why they should remember you.
Do you really want to lose the opportunity to use that initial meeting as a starting point of a useful business relationship?
Here’s where a potentially useful relationship begins
Of course, it’s no good checking out the name and email address of someone you just met at a networking event and writing them a hard-sell email saying “buy my stuff.”
No matter how formalised the networking-for-sales set-up in which you met (and there are some very formalised ones around) people are human, and will see straight through overtly sales-orientated emails and messages … especially if they stink of set-piece text that has been written by some robotic sales machine.
So what should you write to fulfil business networking promises?
It’s not difficult to figure out. If, at a networking event, you have had a chat with someone and they have mentioned they might be interested in…
- An article you have written
- An article someone else has written, which you feel would be useful for them
- A website or blogsite that addresses something of interest to their business
- A website or blogsite that addresses something of interest to them personally – e.g. a hobby or other interest
- Any other relevant resource
…then focus on that in your initial response to them.
This establishes three very important elements in the way your relationship can build with them from here on:
1.That you have listened to them and have thought about what you can contribute to their interests.
2.That you are interested in them, without trying to shove your product or service up their nose
3.That you care enough to share information at no cost, but purely out of goodwill
And what should you write next to move that relationship along?
This is where you can gently upgrade the relationship.
If they respond to your email or SocMed message to thank you for your recommendation or whatever, in response you could suggest meeting for coffee or a Skype call to have a further chat based on what you originally discussed.
They won’t buy from a blatant written advertisement even if it is in the form of a LinkedIn message or email.
And don’t forget, even if they don’t need your product or service now, they may do so in the future. Or, they may know someone else who is looking for what you offer. Look at it in the long term.
But if you haven’t followed up that initial meeting with a written response, very soon afterwards, you risk that they will forget all about you.
And if you do drop them an email a month later, you shouldn’t be surprised if they regard it as spam from someone they don’t know. People’s memories are very short.
So remember – follow up those business networking contacts ASAP
I usually do it as soon as I get back from the business networking event so I know it’s done. It’s a good idea to try that if you can fit it into your schedule.
Questions? Drop Suze a line on firstname.lastname@example.org