You’ve heard that networking is a great way to build your business.
“Just get yourself out there.”
“Go out and meet people.”
“You never know who your friends know.”
That’s what they all say, right?
So. You just went to a networking event. You had some great conversations. You met some really nice people. And you collected a ton of business cards.
And now you’re home, and you’re thinking … “Now what?!”
Should you follow up? Does the fact that someone gave you a card imply that it’s okay for you to contact them? Can you add them to your email list? And what do you even say when you DO follow up?
All these questions may leave you paralyzed with indecision. So you wait, which creates a time gap, and then you’re embarrassed because you don’t know what to say or how to follow up
Which leads to wasted opportunities.
It’s all so overwhelming!
Okay, stop right there.
There’s no need to panic.
I’m going to walk you through how to know whether you can email or call someone whose business card you got at an event, and how to follow up in a way that’s effective, authentic, and fun.
Okay, let’s dive in!
Do you know where all good follow-up starts?
BEFORE the meeting.
The very first step to successful networking follow-up is to get prepared in advance.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to networking is to fail to think about follow-up before the meeting. When this happens, you’re in reactionary mode. You’re behind the 8-ball.
The solution: shift your mindset. Go from reactive to proactive.
With decisions made ahead of time, you can network and follow up with confidence.
Before you even begin thinking about follow-up messages, you may wonder whether you’re even supposed to follow up with the people you’ve met (or the people whose business cards you’ve collected) at an event.
How to Know if You Have Permission to Contact Someone
Wow! That stack of business cards you picked up at the networking event is huge! But are all of these prospects actually prospects? Is it okay to reach out to them?
My answer: it depends how you got the business cards.
If you just went around and picked them up off a table, then, no, it’s not okay to reach out to them. The point is not to collect cards, just for the sake of collecting cards.
But, if you had a conversation with people, and they said they’d like to learn more about what you do, then yes! Reach out to them.
It’s okay to do so for two reasons:
- They asked to learn more.
- Every email message you send will include an “unsubscribe” link, which will allow people to unsubscribe or to adjust the settings of their subscription – so they choose which types of messages to receive. (By including an “unsubscribe” link, you’re also adhering to spam regulations. This means you can follow up with confidence.)
The best way to reach out to them is with a pre-written, automated email series. Even better, when you’re prepared and proactive, you can actually let people know, while you’re talking with them at a networking event, that they’re going to receive your free gift in your follow-up series, and what else to expect.
Follow-Up Email Messages
Before you even attend a networking event, create a series of follow-up emails you can send out to the people whose business cards you collect.
Keep in mind that the purpose of this follow-up is clarity (not necessarily to get a client). You want the reader to self-identify as one of your potential clients, and refer people they know who may be potential clients. It’s a great way to get people in touch with you.
The First Message
Obviously, since you’re creating this message ahead of time, it will be generalized, and it will include:
- A “Nice to meet you” statement, for the people with whom you talked or interacted.
- Information about the transformation you provide through your services.
- An invitation to get your free gift. I recommend adding people to your prospect list and giving them access to the gift, without requiring them to do anything else. This will give prospects a better idea of how you serve the people with whom you work, and the transformation they experience.
- A Call to Action, asking people to download the gift (yes, it’s best to actually spell it out – people are more likely to download your gift if you say, “Download my gift.”) Or, you can ask the reader to forward the link to the free gift on to a friend or family member who may be a good fit if he or she isn’t.
- A Secondary Call to Action in the PS. This Call to Action will provide a link to a scheduler where people can book a sample session with you. It may say something like, “If you’re ready to overcome your challenges and experience results, book a sample session to get started today.” Of course, it’s best to be specific about which challenges they’ll overcome, and which results they’ll achieve.
The Second Message
In this message, share the top questions people have about working with you: specifically, about the transformation they experience, and how you answer those questions.
This may read like an FAQ question. The point of sharing questions and answers is to overcome common objections someone might have to hiring you (or any coach!).
Here’s an example:
Q: I’m so busy! I don’t have time for coaching. How can I justify this time investment?
A: During our work together, I’ll show you how to choose your priorities and get more of the important items done in less time, while providing accountability you may not otherwise hold yourself to. So while you may feel short on time later, you’ll soon find that as a result of the focus and accountability, you have more free time and an increased sense of calm.
As with your first message, this one should include a Call to Action. Let readers know that if they’re ready to overcome challenges and achieve results, they can click on the link to your schedule and set up a complimentary session with you. Or, alternately, to send the link to someone who may be a good fit.
The Third Message
A few days after you send the previous message, send a third in which you share the success story of one of your clients.
I recommend this message focus on a case study or testimonial that shows your client’s before and after.
This provides social proof—evidence that you’ve walked your talk and that what you’re promising is real.
As with your first two messages, this one should include a Call to Action. Ask readers to click on the link to your schedule and set up a complimentary session with you if they’re ready to overcome challenges and achieve results. Or, alternately, to send the link to someone who may be a good fit.
Bringing It All Together
So many coaches love the social aspect of networking, but find the conversations and follow-up intimidating.
The good news is that knowing how you’re going to follow up and what you’re going to say in advance brings clarity on what to talk about and how to guide the in-person conversation at the actual networking event. And when you know the sequence of your follow-up messages, you can minimize the time gap between the networking event and their receipt of your first message, which keeps them interested and engaged.
One quick note, here: be sure to enter new names and contact information into your database within 24 hours upon receiving them. If you can’t find the time to do this, it’s a great project to outsource to a VA.
Being prepared and proactive can change the way you feel about—and approach—networking so it’s effective!
- Be proactive rather than reactive. Create your follow-up messages ahead of time.
- During networking meetings, let prospects know what to expect. Give them a hint about what they’ll get from your autoresponder series (like your free gift!).
- Enter new contact information within 24 hours of receiving it.
- Assign and send your autoresponder series with a Call to Action on every message.
When you follow these steps, you’ll find networking is effective, because you’ll be growing your community, whether these new contacts sign up for strategy sessions, refer their friends to you, or just remain a part of your list. And guess what? You’ll find this process fun—and way less intimidating!