Networking with poor follow up is a complete waste of time. If you network enthusiastically, yet fail in your follow up, you might as well have stayed home.
You’ll go other there, meet people, collect business cards and then…nothing. The people you meet won’t remember you. They won’t remember what you do. You won’t recall how they can help you.
Let’s dissect this whole networking thing and go over techniques for turning this around.
Step 1: Set specific goals
Good networking follow up starts with very specific goals. You need to know why you’re at an event and what you want out of it.
I’m on a plane to Digital Marketer’s Traffic and Conversion Summit as I write this. It’s ideal networking for me. I head up an Infusionsoft membership site building team, and the event is packed with people matching my ideal client profile. I can also recruit many of the attendees to refer me business.
Two goals I set for this event are:
- Identify potential customers that can make use of our membership site building services.
- Recruit non-competing online marketing types to refer me business.
You can include specific counts in your goals like, “I want to identify 12 potential customers,” if you like, but this will work to illustrate my point.
Step 2: Plan how they’ll remember you afterward
You have your goals, so next, you need a plan for getting these folks to remember you. You need these people to connect the conversation they had with you to the email version of you. This has nothing to do with goals. You need to first focus on making the connection so that they know who it is that’s writing them.
NOTE: Because networkers usually include alcohol, remembering is even lower. I’ll show that this actually works to your advantage in a moment.
My plan at a networker involves working the room in an effort to meet new people. You have to do this politely, of course. You don’t want to be remembered as the rude guy that cut them off mid-sentence. That’s bad remembering. What I want is this new person’s email address. I’m list building. Social media connecting is good too, but I want to start an email sequence, and for that, you need their email address.
A while back when I was in hard-core networking mode, I promised myself I would not turn my car on to leave a networking event until I had scanned every card. I sat in the car—and it gets hot in Miami—scanning them with my Infusionsoft mobile app. That meant everyone I met was ready to get something from me, and it could go out even before they leave the event.
I defined three sequences. I have one for people who are potential clients, one for people who are potential referral sources, and one that’s more generic for everyone else. To keep from creeping people out, I don’t send the email out immediately. That feels too automated, and it comes across impersonal anyway. So I added a wait to the first message so it went out the next morning or later in the day for morning events.
So what do you say in your first email?
In paragraph one, I mentioned that it was glad connecting with them at the networking event. I used the word “connecting” because “meeting” implies it was the first time. “Seeing you again” is for people you already know. “Connecting” can be used for both.
The first paragraph in your email must focus on offering some help. Something like:
“It was good connecting with you. I hope you enjoyed the event. It was good getting to know you. Let me know how I can help you with your business.”
Then I added a transition line that goes something like, “This is a good time to tell you a little bit about myself and my business.” I recommend keeping it brief. Even though this is automated follow up, it needs to be personalized, automated follow-up. Make it sound like you sat down to write it, and that you only sent it to them. Avoid using images or banner in the email. It should have the same email signature you always use. Then tell them about yourself and your business. Keep it brief—you’ll be sending them more emails.
Step 3: Prep them for nurturing
Since you just met them, most people will be fine with you sending them two more messages in the next week or so. You want to send them an initial set of messages that have zero selling in them. I have changed what I send several times over the years. For a while, I recommended a book I read that was helpful to me as a business owner. At one time, I included an invitation to an event they could attend for free as my guest. I had privileges at my chamber and could invite people free of charge to one of their luncheons. The point is to position yourself as a resource and not someone wanting to sell them something.
After three email messages, you’ve trained them to receive your email messages and not to unsubscribe. That’s the goal. You’ve opened up that channel to them.
I’m a content generator. So my next step after getting them this initial set of email messages is to send them emails each time I release a blog article. My blogs are all aimed at informing my readers about issues related to membership sites and online marketing. They showcase my expertise. I want them thinking about me as the person to call when they need what I do.
I’ve been doing this a long time, and I hear from people that joined my list years ago. I’ll check their contact record in my Infusionsoft account and see they were added a long time ago. Because I stayed in touch with them consistently, they remembered me and know what it is I do.
You can do the same.
Jorge Lazaro Diaz (founder of Larry Jacob Internet Marketing) and his team specialize in building what they call Incredibly Powerful Membership Websites for Infusionsoft users. Through his program, Defining Infusionsoft Success, Jorge and his guests work to empower entrepreneurs with valuable resources for transforming their businesses. Join Jorge's newsletter to receive weekly tips for growing your business.