The Art of the Follow-up: We're Not dating!
There is no point to networking without the follow-up. It's the most important aspect of the entire process and it's something that most of us tend to mess up. I want to be absolutely clear right now — networking is not dating. There is no 24 or 48-hour rule, no guideline about who should call first, no risk of sounding desperate with an immediate meeting request. In short, networking is typically about getting things done. The only way to do that is to follow-up.
The Art of the Follow-up
As I wrote in a previous blog, I typically try to set at least one follow-up meeting at each event I attend. It's pretty easy because all of us tend to carry our calendar in our pockets through our smart phones. If this isn't your style don't be afraid to connect or email the person you'd like to meet as soon as you get back to your office. It's usually easier to set appointments with people you've just met because you're still fresh on their mind.
Persistence is Key
The final piece is being persistent. Don't give up after one email or one voicemail message. There have been multiple times that I've had to email or call a person more than 10 times to set an appointment. When I finally got the person on the phone I apologized for leaving so many messages. Their response kind of surprised me — "No need to apologize. I kept meaning to call you back but things kept coming up. Thank you for the follow-up because I really did want to have this meeting." They thanked me for my persistence.
Getting good at following-up doesn't take an overly complicated calendar or call strategy. It takes the willingness to be persistent and a desire to truly connect with people. Always remember that without a good follow-up plan, there is no point to attending all of those networking events. After all, I just want to go out for a cup of coffee, not on a date.
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