Steps to Networking – Step 69: Following Up

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 14th, 2010

STEP 69: FOLLOWING UP

“You can be the master of working a room and leave each networking event with a pocketful of business cards, but if you do not follow up with these people and others already in your network, you will never be successful at networking.” ANDREA NIERENBERG, AUTHOR

After you’ve made an interesting new contact who you would like to know better, who could help your career or other aspects of your life, follow up, follow up, follow up. All of the work that you’ve done to make and impress contacts could be lost if you don’t systematically follow up.

Do you know how to follow up? Do you know what to do after you made the first contact? How do you build upon your initial encounter?

Lets hope that when you met your new contact, you followed our suggestions and rattled off that killer sound bite. Hopefully, it impressed your contact and elicited further interest. If it did, did you chat, exchange business cards or contact information? Did you make a date or clearly state that you would like to get together or keep in touch? If you did, great! That’s a start, but it’s only a start, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When you make new contacts, you’re just getting you foot in the door. Once you have that initial opening, the object is to get in deeper, to get past the gatekeeper and move all the way to the Oval Office. For some people, making initial contacts comes easy; it’s an instinctive part of their nature. In most cases, these contacts are brief, little more than introductions that won’t go further. However, on occasion, you will want to turn first encounters into more solid relationships, which takes far more time and effort. The bulk of what it takes is following up.

For many, following up is uncomfortable. They usually find it uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do. Few of us have ever been taught to network and for many it doesn’t come naturally – – – at least, that’s what we feel. Ironically, when most of us were kids, it was easy to enter into new relationships. We would meet a new kid and see him/her the next day at school, at Little League or at dance class. If we had to call a new kid, it got a little stickier, but generally it was no big deal because most everybody was eager to make new friends. But when we became adults, everything changed.

Most adults find it hard to follow up. Some are shy, afraid to be a nuisance or to appear to be groveling. The majority; however, simply feel awkward and ill at ease. To them it’s unnatural. They see networking as selling and although all of us sell something, they don’t want to be perceived as sales persons. Well, if you feel that way, get over it because it’s probably holding you back.

Following up promptly is good business; it’s smart business. Following up is as important as any other business task, but most people don’t approach it systematically. They think that it should be easy, like when they were kids, and they justify not following up because they are so busy or it’s not their style. As a result, they follow up only when they can steal time from other tasks that they consider more important or in desperate attempts to breathe new life into efforts that no longer have life.

In the beginning, following up may feel strange; it may even feel unpleasant, but you’ll soon adjust to it. It won’t take long, but it will take some time and work and it helps to have a plan. The big surprise is that following up can be fun and it can produce rewards beyond your expectations. It can enable you to meet and form relationships with wonderful people who become close friends and enrich your life.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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