ICS Magazine

The All-Important Step That is Usually Left Out!

July 6, 2008

Over the past 6 months I have shared a lot about networking: how to network, what to say, etc. But now the “meeting” is over, and it is up to you to follow up.

Don’t underestimate this step. I am convinced a ton of money is left on the table because the follow-up call is not made.

Just recently I was working on a big deal, and I do mean big. I was heading to a city where a huge prospect happened to be located. That morning on the way to the airport it occurred to me that I should call on this prospect. I called to attempt to get an appointment for that same afternoon (and it happened to be a Friday. I would need a lot of luck or some Providence to make this happen!).

By 2 p.m. I still had not heard back. No message, nothing. Surely I was pushing the envelope. Who is going to see me late on a Friday afternoon when I had requested the appointment only this morning? Certainly not anyone as important as the person I was calling on!

Should I call again? Or will I appear too pushy or, worse, desperate? I reasoned that I could say, “just wanted to make sure you got my message…” but I decided to do something else first. Occasionally my cell phone malfunctions and missed calls simply don’t show up. I check my voicemail and to my surprise I hear this message: “Mr. Partridge, the only time I can see you today is at 3:30pm…” As it happened, the perfect time for me!

I shudder to think what may have happened had I not made the call. Not only did I get what I wanted – I got even more!

So, the message here is simple: Follow up! How many times have you met someone at a networking group and you both said, “Let’s get together sometime,” even though you both know it ain’t gonna happen?

You may recall that, in an earlier article, I stressed the importance of getting permission to follow up. When you meet someone that you want to develop a relationship with, get their permission. If possible, schedule an appointment with them on the spot.

So, now you make the follow-up call. Here’s what you say:

“Hi Jack, this is Howard. We met at (name of networking group).”
Jack responds. You follow with…
“I just wanted to see when we could get together to see how we can help each other.”

(Notice I said, “when” not “if” and “how we can help each other,” and not just how he can help me or I can help him. Keep that in mind when you are networking. When you say, “I can help you…” the translation is “I have to buy something.” And “you can help me” is selfish. Why should they? Sure, it would be great if the whole world was a giving world that couldn’t wait to take up their valuable time to help you, but that just isn’t the way it is. But if you have positioned yourself well and peaked their interest, and you follow with some “ideas on how we can help each other,” you will get more appointments).

Jack responds. If he’s evasive or unsure, go with…
“I don’t want to take up too much of your time. It would only take me a few minutes to share a couple of ideas how we can help each other.”
If he still refuses, try…
“No problem, I understand. When would be a good time to check back with you?”

Note the time and put in your calendar. Then make sure you follow up. 

In the Meantime It's Very Important That You...

Be sure to send a card immediately and thank Jack for the time over the phone. The more you can personalize the card the better. I like using SendOutCards.com because I can send a physical card through the mail without going to the card store. Plus, I can upload a picture from my computer. I can pick a card that is related to our discussion. And if I have a picture of the two of us together, even better!

Here’s two examples: A couple of years ago, I bumped into a top referral source standing in line at the local cafeteria. We were both alone, so we ended up having a two-hour lunch together. During that time, he told me all about his son’s baseball career. When I got back to my office, I simply went up to SendOutCards.com and picked out a card with a baseball on the cover. Two minutes and $1 later, I had taken the relationship to the next level.

My best friend Dave DeBlander’s birthday is another example. I sent him a card and inside the card was a picture of us playing pool at my house. I also included a book, an option you can select with SendOutCards.com (for more information on SendOutCards.com, search the ICS archives for “The Greatest Marketing Tool of All Time”).

Finally, it is worth repeating: put your contact in a database immediately and mail to them on a regular basis. You can’t miss with a regular personalized greeting card. If you don’t have time to do it, have a high school kid enter your cards into a database. They can even send the card for you.

Finally, pick up the cash you’re leaving on the table by following up! It is worth it!