The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce hosted a terrific meeting called “Beyond Networking”. The speaker was Rob Frankel of Frankel Staffing who has years of experience as a successful networker.
I thoroughly enjoyed the speech and wanted to convey a few takeaways.
I know I am guilty of attending networking events, collecting business cards, and then leaving them stacked in a pile on my desk thinking I’ll do something with them. The cards just sit there until I move them to a shoebox (I literally have a shoebox) with all the other cards I’ve collected over the years.
Procrastination is the number one problem of successful sales people. If you own your own business, you are a sales person no matter what you call yourself. Building relationships will get you more business than collecting business cards and leaving them sit on your desk or, in my case, stashed in a shoebox.
Networking is an essential part of business development. To achieve positive results from your efforts, you need to have a consistent follow up process. According to Rod, “true networking starts when the event is finished.”
Follow up with contacts as quickly as possible. You can give them a call which is a personal touch but can be intrusive. You can email them which is non-intrusive but not very personal. You can send them a short hand-written note which is both personal and non-intrusive.
Make sure the follow up has all four “P’s” – polite, personal, professional, and potential for the future. Also, you can offer to provide something of value. Do not send a sales letter or ask for a sales appointment at this point in your communication.
Identify your next step with the contact. Let them know in your initial communication that you will either call or email them to schedule lunch or coffee.
When you are meeting a contact for the first time, jot down notes about that person on their card or a notebook. It will help with your follow up communication. Also, if you promise to send them something, introduce them to someone, or invite to a meeting, then make sure you fulfill your promise. It adds to your credibility unless you drop the ball, so to speak, then you’ve essentially lowered your credibility in that contact’s mind.
Another idea for follow up is to hire a virtual assistant. Lay the business cards on the fax machine and send them to a VA. The VA will input into your contact management database then mail your note or email your initial communication. This will save you time and keep you from PROCRASTINATION!
Some of the contacts that I met this morning were Kathy Simmers of So Worth It (www.so-worth-it.com/Kathy), Melissa Ketchabaw of D. VanEvery & Associates (www.dvanevery.com), Mark Caccio of Solutions pdm (www.solutionspdm.com), Bree Cottrell of The DiLeone Law Group (www.deleone.com), Dianne Davenport of Windstream (www.windstreambusiness.com), Maurice of Keeping God First Vehicle Cleaning (919-931-8240), and Kate Leser of a Distinctive Image (www.aDistinctiveImage.com)