by Bianca Osbourne
When I started my business I was terrible at following up; blame my lack of assistance with the email and awareness of the importance of following up. Once I learned (from my business coach) that I needed to be laser focused on following up my pipeline became consistently full; because what’s the point of networking unless you’re just in it for the fancy lunch?
The fortune is in the follow up because prospective clients LOVE when you make the effort, it shows them that you know how to nurture relationships and relationships are the foundation of a successful business.
Here are some ideas on how to create the perfect follow up process:
1. When you get back to your office, or within 24 hours of meeting someone, send an email. It doesn’t need to be long winded and shouldn’t, under any circumstance, be a sales pitch. This is simply a “nice to meet you” email.
2. Within one week of sending your “nice to meet you email” set up a meeting to learn more about their business and how you might each help each other. Some of my best strategic alliances were forged over coffee, after having met through networking. Also make sure to become connected through social media, because even if they aren’t the right match, you may become connected with someone who is through their social channels.
3. If you are struggling to connect with this person, try calling. Picking up the phone is a lost art, and it truly is an art. It could be that whoever you are trying to connect with is buried under emails and yours hasn’t yet come to their attention. All you have to say is “Hi, it’s (your name), we met at (insert event), I was hoping to connect with you further to learn more about your exciting ventures. Is there a time within the next week that works for you”.
Again, keep it brief; we are all busy people. Get to the point, set the date and pen it in your calendar.
4. After your first meeting, send an email thanking them for their time; all busy entrepreneurs will appreciate being thanked for their time, as it’s incredibly precious.
5. I do my best to connect new contacts with referrals almost immediately- if I can. This highlights that you are a) connected and b) someone they should be aligned with because you are connected.
6. And lastly, 30 days after your meeting, make contact again. If you’ve been in contact within this time, then this is happening naturally. Otherwise this is a great opportunity to stay in touch, because you are building a relationship with this person; and, though, they may not have been a good fit at the moment, it isn’t to say they won’t be in the future.
Whether you are new in business or a seasoned veteran following up is the foundation of business building and maintenance, because no matter what business you are in, you are in the business of building relationships.
Bianca Osbourne is a professional chef, certified holistic nutritionist, wellness business coach and founder of The Vitality Kitchen, where she inspires vitality through food and helps aspiring wellness business entrepreneurs thrive in business and in life. Connect with Bianca @VitalityGuide on Twitter.