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Contrarian Follow-Up | Networking

You’ve probably been to about a hundred workshops about how to network. They probably stress about how “the fortune is in the follow-up” and all. While that’s a pretty valid statement, there’s a rather significant problem with it in reality – when it comes to follow up in your networking, it takes two to tango. If the other person isn’t dancing, the typical follow-up routine is largely a waste of time.

First, sending all those thank you emails and connection requests on LinkedIn to ‘follow-up’, while polite, can lull one into a sense of false accomplishment. You really haven’t done very much. (Sorry!)

And second, can we just get real for a minute about two things? How many people really even respond to your ‘thank you’ emails, and how many of those people that you’re sending ‘Hey – great meeting you at that networking event last night!” emails to, do you really want to build a business relationship with, anyway?

So let’s go against the conventional follow-up wisdom, shall we, so you can be more effective and actually have more time to build beneficial business relationships.

1.      Stop following up with everyone – Sure, respond accordingly to ‘thank you’ emails sent to you, but after a night of networking that results in 50 business cards, pick out five or six cards from people that you would really like to get to know better and toss the rest. Reach out to those five or six people who fit what your networking goals are. (See next tip about networking goals, below.)

2.     Know your networking goals before you follow-up – Lots of people “network” because that’s just what they think they’re supposed to do, without giving much thought to the result they want.  Don’t be that guy!  (No, “new clients” is not an acceptable result of a networking activity.) Set networking goals –  You’re networking to supplement your business’ marketing. You’re networking to find strategic partners. You’re networking to find other business owners to collaborate with. You’re networking to find some resources to make your business better. You’re networking to find other business owners that you can build mutually beneficial business relationships with, and work together with, to do all of the things I just listed.  You’re networking to grow your Know/Like/Trust Factor. There’s no need to initiate a follow up with people who don’t fit these goals in some way.

3.     Leave your business cards in the office – It will force you to start having some authentic follow up and stop using business cards as a crutch. Not giving your business cards to everyone also gives you a little bit more control over your follow-up process.  In fact, I was going to write a whole post about why I don’t often carry business cards with me, but I found this article, and I can’t say it any better!

These three simple networking follow-up hacks may feel strange at first, but they are guaranteed to save you time, make your networking more authentic and targeted, and help you build better business relationships.

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Need some help making networking goals and getting a process and plan for your business networking? Check out our PowerMatch Networking Plan Workshop schedule or schedule a free 30 minute Networking Consultation and get on the right track!

PowerMatch is a matchmaker for business owners who want to build business relationships. You tell us the types of people you want to meet. We match you up with them and schedule you to meet with them over coffee (usually in a group of 3), so you can figure out how to help each other. We are also on a mission to make sure every business owner out there, PowerMatch client or not, knows what they’re doing when it comes to building better business relationships. Lofty goal, we know. Check out our website for more info!

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