Not following up is kryptonite to business networking! Just ask Superman.
One of the best ways to never do business with anyone you meet is to never follow up with them. It’s all about the FU, as one of my clients likes to say.
Remember the days when you had a stack of business cards in a snarl of rubber bands on your desk? That stack often represented all the FU you didn’t do. (Hey, that rhymes!)
There are really only a few reasons to follow up with anyone – to learn more, share more information, schedule an additional appointment, provide an introduction, get an introduction, or get an answer. Or it’s about fun – golf, attending a sporting event, dinner, etc. That’s really it.
Whether it’s communication through a text, email, LinkedIn, or the phone (there’s an app for that, by the way) practice following up on action steps within 24 hours of making them if possible.
Aren’t you impressed when someone gets the thing done right away?
Here are some of my favorite follow up strategies!
Make the Commitment at the Moment
The time to make the promise to follow up or follow through on something is when you’re having the conversation in real time. No time like the present! If you make the promise face-to-face (or screen-to-screen), you’re more likely to honor your commitment. And people like that!
Set Expectations about Time-frame
When you make your promise, commit to a specific time-frame – especially when you can’t get to it in 24 hours. There is power in declaring a deadline. Keep in mind that establishing a deadline will give the other person permission to follow back up with you if you miss the mark. This would be a little added incentive to hit your deadline. What gets measured gets done.
A friend of mine prefers the phrase “next steps” to “follow up”. He feels next steps, well, you know, suggests that there might be a next step. An answer, a meeting, a discussion, an introduction. Although this is how life pretty much works, we often don’t think about suggesting a next step in our follow up. Do you have a next step with all of your most promising prospects? What is your next step?
Schedule a Meeting as Your Next Step
Related to my earlier point, if there is a next step to be discussed, request to schedule a meeting as your next step. “Let’s schedule some time to continue our discussion about how I can help your team generate more referrals through networking. What works for your calendar over the next couple of weeks?” Now you have a next step!
Post in your Calendar
One of the best productivity tips is to schedule action steps in your calendar. Follow up related tasks are no different. I will often schedule time after meetings (usually 15 minutes) to complete my action steps almost immediately. This practice helps me to complete tasks while they are still fresh in my mind and allows me to get more work completed throughout the day. Getting things done quickly impresses prospects, clients, and referral sources. Remember, how you do anything often reflects how you do everything.
Have you ever had someone make a promise to you when you’re networking, and you had to remind them? It may feel a bit weird, but it also doesn’t leave you with the best impression of them.
How will you make follow up and “next steps” your superpower?
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP?