Did you meet an interesting individual at the last networking lunch? Or, maybe you were recently introduced to someone at a neighbor’s party who could very well be a viable prospect. In these networking-focused times, you’re probably introduced to lots of people at a variety of formal networking events, informal get-togethers, and through online sources.
Sure, it’s important to have a healthy list of contacts. But, a list you never utilize is rather useless. If you’re not staying on the grid and keeping in contact, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to gather new customers and grow your business. Like with certain other things in life, it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it. This adage certainly applies to contact lists.
Are you one of the countless individuals guilty of having an impressive list of contacts and not using it effectively? Don’t be ashamed. You’re in good company. Many professionals, including lawyers, doctors, CPAs and a whole array of others, are notorious for this.
So, if staying connected is so important, why doesn’t everyone stay in touch? The majority of excuses frequently used can be broken down into four main categories. Perhaps, one or more of these will sound familiar to you:
“I can’t think of a creative way to stay in touch.”
There is no shortage of ways to keep in touch. Start with providing something of value (information, introduction, invitation) and use some creativity.
“I don’t want to look needy.”
Actually, by staying in touch, you look professional and organized.
“I never get any business from my contacts, so why bother.”
The person who favors this excuse is the one who gives up quickly. Yes, it’s a numbers game, but how you play the numbers will determine your success.
Oops, you forgot to grow your business? Ok, this is ridiculous, but unfortunately very common. Start with a system that allows you to stay on top of keeping up with your contacts, and stick with it. Playing ignorant or forgetful is a surefire way to achieve failure.
Are you wondering what the best way is to nurture your list? It’s all about having a touch-point follow-up plan. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, really! There are truly only three crucial tips to successful follow-up that you need to know. Are you ready? Ok, here we go:
- Establish a Routine
Keeping in contact is something that needs to happen on a regular basis, not just when you have nothing better to do. If you have a routine, you’ll be far more likely to stick with it. Set a goal for yourself of emailing a certain number each day. E-Newsletters are another quick and efficient way to stay on the grid with contacts, as long as they’re consistently delivered and contain pertinent information.
- Don’t Just Check In
Just like you, your contacts lead busy lives. Trust me. They won’t be your contacts for long if you frequently interrupt them with phone calls just to “check in.” Put some thought into when, why, how, and where you follow-up. A little bit of logic will go a long way here. There’s a fine line between being diligent and being downright pesty.
- Offer Value
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last. Don’t just make contact for the sake of making contact. Offer something of value. It doesn’t have to be monetary in nature. It can be anything from an interesting article emailed to an introduction to a colleague who attended the same school. How do you determine what is valuable to a contact? One word – Listen! Find out what their interests, goals, strengths, and challenges are. Keep track of them, and when you come across something applicable, make contact. You will be amazed how grateful and impressed someone can be when you demonstrate that you’ve been listening to them. Wow! What a concept! Simple, but it’s always worth repeating.
The fact is not all of your contacting efforts will result in million dollar sales. However, the cumulative effect can be extremely important to your overall business development – either from direct sales or through additional referrals. At the end of the day, you just never know which of your contacts will be the one to bring in business or the one who will drop off your “radar.” Thus, it’s crucial to consider a touch-point follow up plan and staying connected as something you need to do with consistency and enthusiasm. The bottom line – You will always lose if you disappear. Stay on the grid, and you’ll be the one who wins.