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7 Tips for Mastering the Fine Art of Following Up

7 Tips for Mastering the Fine Art of Following Up

Relationships take time to grow. The Supremes understood this well when they sang, “You can’t hurry love / No, you just have to wait.” As with friendships, business relationships need time to flourish.

You have to attend more than one networking event to create the kind of rapport that will produce new business opportunities. A bond and trust must form before someone will feel comfortable enough to recommend you and your business to others.

Networking events provide an introduction to new professional connections. They plant the seeds of a professional relationship, but it’s up to you to show your commitment, trustworthiness and competence as you patiently cultivate the relationship. Eventually, your commitment and credibility will lead to a growth in your popularity.

If you want to build a strong network of professional contacts, you must master the fine art of follow up. After a networking event, use these tips to stay in touch with new connections.

1. Follow up immediately.

Don’t wait a week or longer to make the first contact. Your new connection may vaguely remember you, but the impact of your meeting will have dramatically diminished. Instead, reach out the next day with a short email. Say something like, “It was a pleasure speaking with you at yesterday’s event. I’d love to meet for coffee next week if you’re available.”

2. Take notes.

Immediately following a networking event or cocktail party, write notes about the people you spoke to and what you talked about. Include superficial details that may help jog your memory, such as what they were wearing or what they looked like. Use the business cards you collected to connect names to faces.

3. Connect on LinkedIn.

No other social media platform has the same professional reputation as LinkedIn. When you send your request to connect, remind the person who you are and how you met. If possible, mention something you talked about such as, “I enjoyed learning about your passion for golf and how I can improve my golf swing. I’ll put your tips to good use this weekend.”

4. Use your calendar.

After your initial follow up, set a reminder in your calendar to follow up again in a few weeks. Reconnect with clients, colleagues and customers on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Call, send an email, send links of interest, or mail a handwritten note. Holiday cards are also a personal way to create a lasting impression.

5. Keep it short.

Your communications don’t need to be lengthy. Keep your messages short and to the point. You could write something like, “Just a note to say I was thinking of you today. I hope business is going well. Let’s get together for Italian food next time you’re in town.”

6. Host an event.

A casual happy hour or dinner party can be a great way to entertain and build rapport. Invite clients and colleagues you think will get along or be able to do business together. When you generously help others connect, you’ll create new business opportunities for yourself as well.

7. Send congratulatory notes.

If you read an article about someone you know who has received an award or promotion, send a note to congratulate him. Include a clipping of the article and say something such as, “Congratulations on the award! I thought you might appreciate an extra copy of your honorable mention. Best wishes for continued success!”

 

 

Originally posted by Jacqueline Whitmore on Entrepreneur

9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

I’ve been called the “queen of networking” for longer than I can remember. At one point, I felt like this was, perhaps, an insult, since so many people think networking is a bad word. But I later realized that’s simply because too many people do it poorly, thus giving networking a bad name.  After countless conversations, speeches, and seminars teaching people how to better network, here are the nine ways that you might be contributing to the bad wrap that networking gets.

1. You don’t get buy-in.

One of the linchpins of networking is the ability to create value-add relationships for others, which begins with an introduction. That intention is pure and necessary. Where the error begins is when you blindly send a three-way email introduction (or worse, just give someone the third party’s contact info) so that you and your original conversation partner know the introduction is coming, but the third party is in-the-dark.

I much prefer to take the extra step of calling or emailing before making an introduction to get the buy-in from the third party. This preps everyone and makes the introduction seamless and more importantly, invited by all parties.

Of course, there are circumstances where this isn’t necessary because you are certain it’s a value-add to both parties and/or you have such a trusted relationship with the third party that you know it will be a warranted introduction. When deciding how to proceed, put yourself in the shoes of the third party and ask yourself, “If I got a blind email connecting me to this person by this person, how would I feel?”

2. You don’t follow up.

Follow up is critical both to keep the momentum going once an introduction is made and to close-the-loop afterward. The biggest problem is when someone makes an introduction for you and you never let that person know what happened as a result. This is a fast way to inadvertently signal to that person that you don’t value their time or that they leveraged their reputation with the other party. Do a quick follow up and share what occurred (as well as to say thank you).

3. You keep bad company.

It’s no wonder that when we were kids, our parents were so concerned about whether or not we were hanging out with the ‘bad kids’. You are the company you keep, both by osmosis and by the perception of others. The good news is, if you keep great company, you get to ride on their reputational equity as well as glean great traits from them. But when we keep poor company, they bring us down and lessen the way others perceive us.  Consider doing some housekeeping.

4. You take too long.

I believe that 24 business hours is the maximum amount of time you have to follow up with someone before you begin to look like you don’t care or think you are too important. We are all busy and pulled in a lot of directions. But your reply can be as simple as, “I’m back-logged on email right now and wanted you to know that I saw your note. I will get back with you as soon as possible, and look forward to connecting soon!”.

5. You only look out for yourself.

One of the primary reasons networking has a sullied reputation is so many people who claim to be “networking” are simply out for their own advantage. It’s best to shift your mentality to being curious when you meet or connect with people. Ask them meaningful questions and really listen. See what you can learn and how you can find connection points. Always ask how you can help them in some way, not with an expectation of what you can get in return.

6. You only think up.

It’s not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While it’s fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, don’t forget that there’s also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.

7. You underestimate the power of someone’s Rolodex.

When you meet someone, you’re not meeting just them, you’re meeting hundreds of people.  As we can see from social media, people have hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts. While some are naturally stronger than others, keep in mind that they are a gatekeeper to the people they know and to whom they could introduce you. Don’t write someone off because you don’t see immediate value.

8. You don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

This is a quick way to chip away at trust and lessen your credibility. If you say you’ll follow up with an email today, do it. If you say you’ll be at the dinner, be there and be on time.

9. You think you don’t need to network.

As someone who hosts monthly networking events in three cities for hundreds of people at each event, I often hear this when I extend invitations. When you say you “don’t need to network”you’re saying you will never be in need of the help of others nor do you want to meet anyone new to help them.

Networking is a fancy word for relationship building, so you’re basically saying that you are happy to live with the circle you’ve created and have put up a wall to anyone else. What you may mean is that you’re not currently looking for something you think you can gain from meeting new people (refer back to point 5) or that you don’t like big events, in which case, express that.

If you see yourself in any of these networking faux-pas, consider working on them in the New Year to expand your circle!

 

Originally posted by Darrah Brustein on Entrepreneur

How to Quickly Grow Your Network With No Business Experience

How to Quickly Grow Your Network With No Business Experience

Everyone knows that networking is important, but fewer people know exactly how to build a network, even though networking is perhaps the business owner’s single most important skill, no matter what the industry.

The good news is that becoming a master networker does not require an Ivy League degree, wealthy parents or a membership at the country club.

Growing your network, actually, is a fairly simple process.  Like most things in business, however, ensuring that includes powerful and influential people is not easy. Yet it’s not complicated, either. So, if you have always held onto the limiting belief that great networking requires an advanced degree and tons of cash, then read on, and let the truth set you free.

1. Attend business meetups and personal growth events.

You know the old saying, “If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are”? Well, if you want to network with high-level individuals, then go where they go.

In this context, one of the best habits you can develop for networking success is attending business meetups in your area. For specifics, go to Meetup.com and look for industry specific events close to you. You’ll be amazed at whom you can meet just by showing up and adding value to everyone around you.

Don’t try to market yourself or your company, either. Just be genuinely interested in the other people there and you will have people marketing you.

Another great place to meet high-level influencers and industry leaders is at personal growth events like Unleash the Power Within from Tony Robbins or entrepreneur conferences like World Domination Summit from Chris Guillebeau.

Hundreds of multimillionaires, top salespeople and industry disrupting entrepreneurs attend these types of events on a yearly basis. Even if you don’t manage to network as much as you’d planned, these events will still be invaluable for your personal growth and business success.

2. Produce great content.

Imagine if, instead of having to work hard at networking and hand out hundreds of business cards (doomed for the trash can) at local business dinners, you had dozens of influencers approaching you. Sounds like a dream right?

Well, this can be your reality if you are willing to put in the work to create a high-quality online platform with even higher quality content.

If you are able to write an article or record a video that rocks the internet and goes viral in a way that helps millions, industry leaders will want to talk to you and you will no longer have to work to get them on the phone for a curt 30-second introduction.

3. Introduce two new people every week.

I forget where I first learned this concept, but its power cannot be understated: If you make it your mission to connect two new people every week without any ulterior motives, you will find your network exploding in a matter of months.

People like people who are helpful. Find an excuse every week to introduce two people who may be mutually beneficial to one another. The task need not be a big ordeal, either. Simply writing an email like the following will do:

Hey Joe,

I wanted to take a second and tell you about Jane, an absolute ROCKSTAR, at a friend’s company. I thought I’d introduce you.

I know you mentioned that you are looking to improve your marketing efforts. And Jane mentioned she was looking to get involved in marketing consulting (coincidence? I think not!). Hope everything is well, and I am excited to get you two connected 🙂

Best regards,

Neil

4. Realize that ‘it is not about you.’

Let me let you in on a little secret. Most of the people you want to connect with are approached by hundreds if not thousands of people each month, all of whom bring along an attitude of WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

One of the easiest ways to set yourself apart is to completely forget your personal agenda and connect with these people in an authentic and non-needy way. So, offer value to others instead of simply grabbing stuff for yourself.

Tell them how influential they have been to you and your journey, offer to take them out for a meal and connect them with someone they might not know.

If you can master the art of authentically connecting and suspending your personal goals, you will stand out as one among many and have more success in your networking endeavors than you ever thought possible.

Conclusion

Networking is often seen as this big scary thing that only CEOs and “real business people” do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter where you are in your business or career, no matter how big or small you feel, you have the ability to connect with the top players in your field, and do so much more simply and easily than you imagined.

So, take these tips and implement them in the coming weeks. See where it takes you. You may be surprised!

 

Originally posted by Neil Patel on Entrepreneur

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