You’ve probably heard the phase “the fortune is in the follow up.”  But if you’re like most professionals, you have an untouched stack (possibly multiple stacks) of business cards gathering dust in your office. The more networking you do, the more overwhelming it can seem to have to follow up with “all those people.”
To get results from networking, there has to be some amount of follow up. The great news is that not everyone you meet warrants following up. As Alecia Huck with Maverick & Company says, invest [your time] strategically, not evenly

So how do you decide who to follow up with?  Here are 3 steps to organize all those business cards so you can follow up easily and strategically.

STEP 1:  Categorize your contacts, example: A’s, B’s, C’s

Your A or top category are fewest in number and contain your high-priority contacts such as existing clients, referral partners, cheerleaders, champions and raving fans.
Your B category are those who might share your target market, have expressed an interest in your product/service – you just need to get to know them a little better.
Your C category are most of the people you meet. As you get to know them, they can move to a higher level category or they may go into the last category…
Defer… these folks are mighty fine yet there just isn’t any synergy, expressed interest or foreseen potential and you get to “defer” these folks and not follow up. You may get to know them as you cross paths and may be able to place them in a higher category, but lighten your load and defer them for the time being. P.S. Be sure to categorize your existing contacts as well as the new folks as you meet them. There’s gold in them there hills!!

STEP 2:  Determine follow up or “touch” frequency

The frequency of follow up is at your discretion. Perhaps you follow up with your A category once every month, your B category every 2 months or quarterly, C category quarterly or every 6 months. You decide based on who makes up each category. You might also find you need to move some contacts between categories in this step.

STEP 3:  Now it’s time to follow up!

Your primary goal in following up is to learn more about your contact and determine if synergy exists between your businesses. How can you help one another and be strategic. Your follow up or touch-types must vary and cannot always be salesy or seeking to gain. Do this and your contacts will build a wall and avoid your outreach, which can be very hard to undo. There are a variety of ways to follow up and stay in front of your contacts. You might mail an article of interest, invite them to an event, write an unsolicited testimonial or recommendation… you could even connect them to a potential partner or resource.

The list goes on as there are many creative ways you can “reach out and touch” your contacts.

comment-arrowWhat creative ways do you have for following up with the people you meet in business?  I will include your ideas when I share a more comprehensive list in my next blog post. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.

At CERTUS networking events, I like to say “The magic doesn’t happen at our events. The real magic happens out there… when you leave and continue the conversations you started here. Keep talking.”  Follow up strategically with the people you meet!

© 2014 CERTUS™ Professional Network / Behind The Moon, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sabrina Risley

Sabrina Risley is a master connector. She’s been hosting live networking events since 2004 and has welcomed 20,000+ professionals to those events. She shares her observations, insights and tips of how the top 2% of effective and magnetic networkers build their businesses. She also shares what NOT to do when networking. Get her complimentary e-book: Strategic Networking for Success.
Sabrina Risley