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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Third: Follow Through With Your Contacts

(Written on October 7, 2010, published by DYP Advisors)

Our favorite Hollywood story is about the sudden discovery: you meet a highly placed executive, strike up a great conversation and — cue music — you’re hired and tucked into a corner office with great views. Role credits.

Unfortunately, that’s what we consider a happy ending. In science fiction, this is the scary plot, the one where there is instant categorization, allocation and minimal human contact. But yes, it sure is easier. In any case, statistically speaking, it’s definitely one thing: irrelevant to your networking efforts because the chances of that happening are slim. So when you network, prepare for a lot of follow up. It’s not as easy as making first contact (exchanging business cards) but this is where the magic happens.

First, contact the person soon after the event. There is so much going on in our busy lives that it will be more difficult for you and for the recipient to remember each other afterwards. If you met multiple people, it’s even more difficult.

Second, to the extent that you can remember, personalize the message. Mention a unique point in your conversation, to not only show you were paying attention, but it will jog his or her memory into remembering you. And remember: “personalize” the message by commenting on the conversation, not appearances. The word is personalize, not personal. No one appreciates a conversation that suddenly becomes too close.

Third, schedule a meeting. Invite the person to coffee or a meeting. Accommodate as much as you can as to location and time.

Fourth, respect everyone’s time. Say what you have to say, be direct, be friendly and then release your captive. Everyone remembers that free feeling fondly.

Fifth, follow up the follow up. It’s just simple good manners to send thanks. No one expects hand written notes anymore. An email message suffices. If you are both tech savvy and use your social networking for business, you can go that route as well. By the way, if they are not tech savvy or use their accounts personally, do not bother. Not everyone uses facebook as broadly as you might and it could be seen as an intrusion into family/social space. More than that, they might not check their account often so your note will be neglected. Stick to email first.
Slowly, you’ll meet people, learn about them, remember them and recommend them to each other. Business develops and the entire process becomes dynamic: you have a network! When we daydreamed about our Hollywood ending, it was a passive role. Everyone I know who organizes events hopes that the audience will be engaging, interesting individuals who connect with each other. In real life, everyone roots for the heroine and you’ll know her because she is the one writing her own script!

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