(From the April 2021 Edition of eFORUM)
By Mia and Andy Torr
If you’ve ever felt awkward or disorganized about following up, you aren’t alone. It’s the No. 1 concern that business networkers share with us. In fact, in our experience hosting thousands of networking events, only a tiny fraction of attendees follow up with us, and an even smaller number follow up well.
There’s good news: this single skill can dramatically increase your results if you improve by even a small margin. Here are three simple habits that can help you feel more organized, reliable, and memorable as you follow up.
1. Block post-event follow-up time.
Whenever you open your calendar to schedule a networking event, immediately block some follow-up time in your calendar within 24 hours of that event. Your calendar is already open, and this will take you less than 30 seconds to accomplish. But if you skip this step, life often gets in the way and the follow-ups get lost.
2. Make it part of your workflow.
Follow-up takes more than a single email. Schedule regular blocks in your weekly workflow dedicated to follow-up and relationship-building activities. Use this time to email, connect on social media, make phone calls, or send cards.
3. Schedule the next exposure.
When you follow up, always schedule the next time you will connect. Even in a voicemail or an email, mention that you’ll follow up again. This keeps the conversation moving, and if things go dark, it gives you permission to reach out a second time without feeling pushy.
If there’s a single piece of additional advice that can help you build goodwill, it’s this. Follow-up is about permission, not persuasion. Use your conversations to ask questions, make connections, and find out how you can best serve this person. Then proceed with permission. This will help you stand out from the types of networkers who blanket subscribe new contacts to their email list without permission (and keep you out of trouble for doing so).
If you try these three habits, watch how your networking relationships greatly improve.
Mia and Andy Torr are the co-founders of Authentic Networker, an international business networking community with more than 20,000 members in five countries. Join our free online networking events at authenticnetworkers.com/online.