Recently I blogged about how to network without business cards and as promised here’s the follow up post, all about following up!
You may remember that at our Business Hubs we don’t encourage business card swapping – we think it actually makes people lazy and inhibits relationship building. How? It allows you to ‘connect’ without actually engaging with people. If you follow our advice – either when you’re attending a business event or running your own – once you’ve found common ground with other attendees, exchanging contact details will happen naturally – after some meaningful conversation.
If possible I recommend that when you have found someone you are interested in you simply ask how best to get hold of them. They may give you a card, they may ask you to Link In or just give you a phone number. Importantly ,you are now in control of the all important follow up and can do it in a really meaningful way. If someone you are talking to asks for your card, by all means give them one but do take their details as well, or you will be relying on their efficiency not yours.
Why should you want to take control?
The advantage is that you can follow up in a highly personalised and relevant way. If they contact you, you’ll have to react to their communications rather than taking the lead and steering the conversation towards your objectives. Also, they may not follow up with you at all!
Here are my follow up tips:
Top Tips For The Business Follow Up Email
Research your new connections. Before sending any follow up emails, or contacting them on the phone, do some research. From your initial meeting with them you should have some idea of how your business and theirs could potentially work together, but now’s your chance to find out exactly where that alignment is.
Research their company information to see exactly what they do, what their products are, the market they operate in, and their competitors. Research the individual too and look for opportunities to make a deeper connection. For example, you may know people in common, have worked with the same companies, or share a similar background. This will all help you to personalise your follow up and identify where you can help them.
Be helpful. You may now know that you have a solution or product that is a perfect fit for that connection, but don’t be tempted to send them a product specification or other sales collateral as part of your follow up. For many people this is too soon in the relationship building process and may end it prematurely.
Instead follow up with something helpful that will make them want to keep lines of communication open. It could be a relevant article or blog post that addresses a subject you know they’re interested in. Having done your research you’ll know what will make them pay attention.
Send them something engaging. Try to ensure that whatever you send it won’t feel like homework to them. You may have a really useful blog post that would really benefit them, but if it sounds dry and boring it will get consigned to the ‘must read later’ pile.
So follow up with content that provides some entertainment or that reflects some personality. You’re trying to build a relationship and that means being personable and communicating in a way that will make that person want to spend time with you. Whether that’s time spent reading your emails and content, or time having a meeting or even socialising.
Tell them what to do next. People need a little direction at times to keep moving them towards your objectives. So if you just send them a link to an article with a ‘nice to meet you, you may be interested in this!’ don’t be surprised if all you get in return is a ‘thanks a lot, very interesting.’
Think about what you want to achieve from your follow up email. Do you want to arrange a meeting, phone call, or just get them to buy from you? You’ll know what your typical customer journey looks like, how much nurturing is required before a sale can be made, so make sure your follow up email provides a logical next step.
Be personal. Although you may want to sell a product or services to that business connection’s company, what will really make them pay attention is if you can do something that will make their life better. So make your communications highly relevant to them as a person. Do they have targets to meet? Do they have challenges in their professional life? What can you do that will make a difference?
Follow up your follow up. First off use a CRM system when sending emails, such as MailChimp, so you can track the performance of each follow up email. You may be using these tools for sending out emails to lists, but you can also do it on an individual basis. This way you can see whether that connection has opened your email and clicked on links within it, and measure their engagement.
Of course, we all have emails in our inbox that get forgotten or overlooked. So don’t give up if you don’t receive a reply to your first follow up email. Use your CRM to see whether they’ve opened it and read your content, and then follow up again in a relevant way. If you know they’ve clicked on a link you sent (or not), this information can help you keep the lines of communication open.
We have Hubs at Farnham and Guildford if you would like to experience our no business card networking! We’ve also got plans to open new Business Hubs in the near future so if you would like to bring a Hub to your town, click here to find out more.