I just downloaded a song by Gavin DeGraw called Follow Through that just might become my new theme song for this networking blog. Success in business, sports, and relationships often comes down to the follow through. Golf and tennis pros often point out the follow through of a swing will determine where the ball will land. The same applies to swinging a bat or throwing a ball. The follow through determines the end result.
What is your follow through strategy when it comes to networking? Do you simply collect business cards or do you do something with them? Here are some of my strategies:
- When I add a networking event to my schedule, I block out 30 minutes on my calendar the next morning to follow up on contacts I made at the event. The follow up is usually an email saying how much I enjoyed meeting them, and it might include an offer to connect on LinkedIn or some other social network. Usually it includes a name or link to information that I found out would be helpful when I asked them how I could support them.
- When I am at the networking event I write on the back of the card anything I promised to follow up about. That is the only way I’ll remember who I made commitments to, especially if it is a long evening with many introductions.
- I give myself a task to follow up with them at some interval to reconnect. This might be to see if something I suggested worked or if they ever reached someone I introduced them to. I keep my name in front of them so that they remember the connection.
- Even though I have a database (Salesforce) for my contacts through my employer, I keep the physical business cards in my personal files. I have boxes of business cards that I have collected over the years.
If you tell someone you meet that you will do something on their behalf, you must do it in a timely manner. Even if you reached out to your network to see if you could find what they needed and were unsuccessful, call or email them and let them know that you at least tried. As Gavin says in his song, “Oh, this is the start of something good. Don’t you agree?”