Every business development plan must include meeting new contacts. You need to meet the right people to send you business (directly or via referral), but meeting them isn’t enough: you must follow up with them over time and build relationships.
No surprise, right? The question is how to follow up over time. Here’s your step-by-step follow-up system, starting immediately after you meet someone new.
1. Categorize your new contact. Prioritize all of your contacts based on the likelihood that they will lead to new business or to some significantly beneficial opportunity (a speaking opportunity, for example) in the near future. When you meet someone new, decide whether they belong on the high, medium, or low priority list, which dictates how often you’ll aim to be in touch.
2. Enter details about your new connection into your management system. Track the basics (contact information, where and when you met, who introduced you), and include details about the meeting. What did you discuss? What interests did she mention, business or personal? How do you think you might be able to help him, and to whom should you introduce him? This information will be the grist for future contacts as you build a relationship.
3. Send a “nice to meet you” note or email within 48 hours. Make this easy on yourself: create a system. Design a template that you can use for the note and plug in details that will remind your new contact of where you met and what you discussed. For maximum effect, make it an unbreakable habit to send a note no later than the morning after you meet someone new.
4. Send a personalized request to connect on LinkedIn. The key word here is personalized. It only takes a few seconds to add a comment such as, “I enjoyed talking with you at the INTA meeting Thursday and look forward to keeping in touch.” Yes, LinkedIn has a generic request to connect that’s even faster to send. Don’t be lazy.
5. Keep in touch. Schedule when you’ll reach out next based on your connection’s priority level. The higher priority, the more frequent your contacts should be. If you’ve tracked information about your contact, you’ll find it simple to choose an appropriate way to keep in touch. Options for future contacts include sharing articles or resources that will be of interest personally or in business; offering a recommendation (perhaps to a new restaurants or book); following up on a recommendation your contact made to you; making an introduction; sending a birthday or holiday card; or issuing an invitation to lunch or an event. Your actions should be thoughtful, helpful, and friendly.
When you create a follow-up habit and know what your options are to stay in touch, you’ll find it easy to build relationships. Get started today, develop your habit, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you’ll start to see results.
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