Meeting new people can be stressful. Maybe it is your first time at a professional networking event, and you don’t know how to represent your business quickly to make new connections. Maybe you regularly attend meetings and have your elevator pitch down to a science, but you have trouble remembering names.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, cultivating those new relationships can be nerve-wracking and seem like an impossibility. The key to fostering a healthy, long-term (potentially referral-generating!) relationship is as simple as a superb follow-up plan.
Your follow-up plan should begin before you even step foot in a networking event. Coming prepared to present yourself and your business, and being ready to learn about others’, is crucial.
- Practice makes perfect. Practice your elevator pitch in the mirror, with your colleagues, or even to your cat. Just saying it aloud can help you make it memorable and easy to deliver. When you are on top of your game, people you meet will remember you and your follow-up will be that much better.
- Come prepared. Never forget your business cards, paper and a pen when you go to an event. You’ll need them.
At networking events, there are ways to relieve stress you may feel around the dreaded follow up.
- Always ask for the business card of someone you’ve talked to, even if it was a brief conversation. Even those small conversations can blossom into thriving referral-generating relationships with a little bit of work.
- Take notes. That paper and pen you brought? Put them to use. After you’ve chatted with someone, briefly jot down their name and a few facts about them or their business. These small notes will jog your memory later when you’re reconnecting.
- No selling! You are not trying to convince people to buy your product or service. This is worth repeating: No selling! You are educating new people on what you do, and above all else, learning what they do. You should use this time to identify ways that you can help each other long term.
Here is where you put your follow-up in action, and hopefully begin a long-term relationship with someone new.
- Don’t be shy. Sometimes, following up can be difficult because you don’t want to feel pushy, or like you are bothering someone. You’re not selling someone on your business, you’re developing a relationship, so be confident!
- Don’t wait too long. Sending a quick email, handwritten note and connecting on social media can happen the same night. Waiting a week for your first point of contact may leave your new connection scratching their head, struggling to remember who you are.
- Use your notes. When you reach out to follow up for the first time, use details you jotted down after you spoke in person. A brief mention of your shared interests, or even identifying ways that you can help that person grow their business, can be great conversation starts and show that you already care about this relationship.
What other ways do you know of that can help someone expedite their follow up? Join the conversation on Facebook!
Hero image credit: BNI Lithuania