Networking is a Contact Sport
"Networking is truly a contact sport that requires you to be proactive if you're going to win," explains Miller. "Are you guilty of taking a defensive networking strategy; waiting for others to contact you? If so, the following tips are well worth reading and following if you want to achieve any level of success from your efforts."
Ask How They Want to Be Contacted
Much of the reason why so many of us don't follow up after a networking event is that we simply don't know the best way to take that next step. Do you email, write a handwritten note, or give them a call? It can certainly be confusing, but there is an easy solution to this. At your next networking event, ask the individuals that you'd like to connect with again what the best method is to reach them. If they are vague, they probably don't want to pursue anything further. If they do tell you their preferred contact method, you can be confident about how to follow up, and most likely they'll be anticipating it, too!
Ok, you now have a stack of business cards, and the thought of contacting everyone can be overwhelming. But, you have to do it, so develop a plan of action. Separate your contacts into two groups - the group of individuals that you want to contact for a specific purpose and those who you simply met but have no specific reason to call. Call back the first group as soon as possible. Then, send a note or email to the others saying how pleased you were to meet them and that you are looking forward to seeing them again soon. Don't forget to add everyone's contact information into your database for future reference.
Be a Sleuth
Thanks to the Internet many of your contacts will have an online presence. Google their name and see what comes up. Then, befriend them on LinkedIn or Facebook. If they have a blog, write a comment and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them.
Focus On Giving
Instead of hoping that someone will contact you with a potential opportunity, make a list of who you met and how you can help them. Do you have a recommendation or a contact for someone? Great! Follow up with the information. If not, consider sending an article of interest, an invitation to an industry event, or even just a note or email that you'll keep your eyes open for possible opportunities.
Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".
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