In the words of Vidal Sassoon, “The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary.” Following up with people after a meeting or event may seem like a lot of work, but it can be the very step that will have the most impact and make all that networking you do pay off. So what can you do to turn that rapport you built into relationships?
Face-to-face contact is the best type of follow-up, although it’s not always possible. Follow-up via email gives the impression of “work-as-usual” and can easily get overlooked, deleted, or archived never to be read. Phone calls, notes, and letters make more of an impact because they take some time, thought, and effort to accomplish. If you don’t have personalized stationery, have some made. People will recognize your personal touch when they receive your note or letter. For more info, read http://jillbremer.com/articles/etiquette/thank-you-notes/
Follow-up can also include sending materials pertinent to the discussion you had with your new contact. Send the restaurant guide to Paris for their upcoming vacation in France or alert them to a web site or blog you discovered that will help them with their latest project. If you ever see contacts’ names in print, clip and send that, too (their mom will always need an extra copy :)). Invite them to a meeting you’re attending or speaking at. Ask if they’d be willing to review some written material you’re currently working on such as your brochure or an article.
But again, you can’t beat face-to-face follow up. So drop by their office to lend that book you recommended, give them a ride to the next meeting (great conversations can happen as you drive together), or take them out for coffee or lunch!
Don’t be merely a collector of business cards – USE that email, phone number, and address they handed you and turn those few minutes of “How do you do” into real business!