You’ve just returned from a killer networking event. You mingled like a boss, rubbed some pretty impressive elbows, shared your vision and walked away with a pocket full of business cards.
Networking is a powerful tool for marketing your business. Why? Because it involves relationship building, which is the key to driving ongoing success. In fact, 95% of professionals feel that face-to-face meetings are essential for developing and fostering long-term business relationships.
That first meeting is really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the work you put in after the fact – that is, taking the appropriate steps to follow-up, stay connected and really start nurturing those relationships – that really gets results.
Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Think you’re too busy?
Here are a few easy and efficient yet powerful ways that you can make the most out of the time you spend networking.
Send an email.
Seems pretty simple, right? Yet, you’d be surprised at how few people actually take the initiative and send that follow-up message.
If you want to continue the conversation, don’t wait for your new contacts to reach out to you – take action yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick ‘hello’ and an invitation to continue the conversation.
Send several (personal, but) automated messages.
The majority of people you meet, even if they’re really interested in your service, aren’t quite ready to buy from you. Studies show that it typically takes six to eight touches to convert a lead from prospect to customer, which means you need to stay in touch and nurture the relationship.
Effective lead nurturing requires ongoing communication and regular connection. Otherwise, you risk falling off the radar and missing out on future business opportunities.
A great way to keep in touch on a busy schedule is to set up an autoresponder, which will automatically send out follow-up emails on your behalf based on a specified schedule.
We use Infusionsoft or Constant Contact but most CRM and email service providers offer this option.
Not sure what to say?
Focus on providing something of value to help strengthen the relationship. Share tips, tricks, expert advice and anything else that will remind your recipients how they will benefit from staying connected with your business.
It’ll definitely take a bit of time on the front end developing your content and setting up your emails, but once it’s done you can relax and let technology follow through for you.
Pick up the phone.
Old fashioned? Maybe.
The fact is you’re passionate about your business and solving your customers’ problems. Unfortunately, that passion can easily get lost in translation when we use the written word.
Speaking, on the other hand, allows you to convey the emotion behind your message so much better.
Not only that, it also provides the chance to identify areas of opportunity – such as pauses, verbal cues and other signals of interest – that totally impossible with email.
Don’t be afraid to pick up that phone and continue the conversation.
Connect on social media.
Another great way to follow up is connecting socially. If you sell your products or services to other businesses, LinkedIn is probably your best option, because it offers a private messaging feature that allows for a professional, yet more personal connection.
And once you’re “linked” up, you’ll receive notifications of certain events and milestones – such as work anniversaries, job changes and promotions – so you’ll have plenty of genuine opportunities to stay in touch.
If your target audience is consumers, connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other popular social networks can help you stay in touch with your leads and nurture them through the sales funnel.
In addition to implementing these strategies, there are certain things you can do to improve the outcome of your follow-up activities and help you really optimize the time you invest.
- Make it personal – Remember – networking and lead nurturing all boils down to relationship-building, so always address your recipients by name and whenever possible, reiterate something specific you talked about when you last met.
- Be prompt – The longer you wait to follow up, the less likely you’ll be to keep that connection. Set appointments immediately or at least let them know you’ll be reaching out soon (preferably between 24-48 hours). Keep it casual but focused by saying something like, “When is a convenient time to continue our conversation?”
- Be consistent – As we mentioned earlier, experts believe it can take up to eight touches to successfully convert a lead into a paying customer, which means sending a follow-up email or making one quick call simply won’t cut it.
- Leverage technology – You’re a busy person. You don’t have time to waste. Thankfully, today’s technology offers plenty of solutions. Use scheduling tools, like TimeTrade, Calendly or even Google Calendar to keep on top of your follow-up activities. Contactually is another great resource, as it acts as a virtual “tickler file” to help you remember who you need to follow-up with and when. And, of course, leverage email tools – like the autoresponder feature we mentioned earlier – to streamline the process.
Want to learn more expert tips on how to make your marketing smarter and simpler? Join us for our upcoming online class, “Save Time and Get More Clients with “Set It and Forget It” Marketing,” and learn what steps you can take today to start getting better results tomorrow. But don’t wait – space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot today before it’s too late!