Follow up: Key to Networking Success

by Pat Wiklund - Date: 2007-03-08 - Word Count: 918 Share This!

For all our interest in networking, following up is just as important. Many one-person business owners find they either don't follow up because they don't know what to do, or develop such an elaborate system for keeping in touch that it quickly breaks down and becomes unworkable. Typical downfalls include:

--Using the same personally intensive strategy and activities for everyone they meet, finding they have no time for service delivery

--Flooding new contacts with electronic information, but don't check in to see if there is a real fit

--Letting months go between contacts and then being dismayed with few responses to offers

Networking Maven Kristy Rogers, is not only well known for her prowess in networking, having received three major networking awards just this year alone, but also conducts great seminars on following up. (

Following up, says Kristy, is crucial. Especially for people who are in their first three years of running their businesses or those who need to grow their businesses. Yet most people, even those who know they 'should,' don't follow up after meeting new potential clients.

Kristy identified the three most common follow-up mistakes one-person business owners make:

1) Not scheduling time for follow up on your calendar. If you don't make a follow-up appointment, or if you don't keep the appointment with yourself for follow-up activities, it won't get done.

2) Not developing the habit of following up. Set up some simple follow-up systems and tools: have note cards and stamps handy. Write a few sample notes you can use for either email or snail mail. Make following up part of your daily routine. Use 'scrap time' to dash off a quick note/email to one of your contacts. Build your library of 'one sheets' describing your various products and services. Format printed and electronic copies of articles, especially your own, ready for distribution.

3) Not capturing your contacts in an electronic format. Most people struggle with this task because they get hung up on finding the 'perfect program' to use. Should it be Goldmine, Outlook, Entourage, Excel, and so on and so on. Kristy is adamant about this common sabotage: 'Stop waiting until you find the perfect system and just do it.' Most of us have Excel, it's a part of the Microsoft Office package. Just use it!

Take a course, use the tutorial that is included, ask a friend, pay an expert to set up a simple system. Just start. (Of course this doesn't mean utomatically putting every new contact onto your ezine list. Most of us have more than enough email to deal with already, and just get annoyed when having to unsubscribe from unwanted ezines.)

Why don't people follow up? The biggest block cited by participants in Kristy's workshop is 'not knowing what to say.' She suggests having a script when you phone, or write your follow-up notes. Practice and polish your script, and soon you'll be much more comfortable with follow-up calls.

Professional Speaker Marc LeBlanc considers keeping in touch so important he calls it 'The Greatest Marketing Strategy in the World.' Growing Your Business, available from, is best known for Mark's clear instructions for crafting your defining statement, your 'elevator speech,' how you quickly explain your unique selling proposition (USP). While developing a great defining statement is necessary, for me the gem in his book was his keeping in touch strategy, his Target 25.

Mark suggests you identify the 25 people in your life who are in a position to impact your business. Then make the most of your Target 25 by following his two 'rules':

1) Never let any of them get more than 30 days of hearing from/about you

2) Each of them must know your defining statement

Why 25? -- More could quickly become overwhelming.

Why 30 days? -- We're all busy and need reminders.

At this point most folks go right to an electronic newsletter, ezine, as their primary stay in touch strategy. And, you should have one. But don't stop with only an ezine. Ezines have become necessary but not sufficient. Use all your stay-in-touch tools and techniques: face-to-face meetings, fax, personal notes, and even phone calls.

Evaluating your Follow-up System

Evaluating the effectiveness of your follow-up system has two parts:

1) Do you use it, and

2) Does it get the results you are looking for?

Whatever keep-in-touch system you develop, make it easy to implement so you will keep it up. Too often the system becomes so complicated or unwieldy it is quickly abandoned as too much trouble. Start small and simple.

Assessing results from your follow-up system is crucial. Not always easy, but very important. Too many professionals stay busy with marketing tasks and activities that don't give needed results. Track the source of all new leads. Compare the amount of effort, costs, and time against number of leads. Identify your best sources.

One colleague has spent enormous amounts of time and money with one 'networking' group only to find it was a social experience not a business building experience. 'Doing the numbers' showed new business came through referrals from existing clients, not networking events. She has shifted her keep-in-touch activities to her client base, rather than relying on networking events to fuel new business.

Both Kristy and Mark define action plans for Patricia Fripp's marketing maxim: 'It is not your customers' responsibility to remember you, but your responsibility to ensure they never forget you.' As Kristy reminded me, 'It is up to the salesperson to drive the sales process. You must drive your own follow-up program.'

Don't wait to get started on your action plan. Your business will thank you, and your bank account will thank you.

Related Tags: small business, marketing, networking, marketing plan, follow up, marketing tactics

Need to get your small business more strategic, organized, automated? Click here => for Pat Wiklund's complimentary introductory course on How to Run a One-Person Business Without It Running You. Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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