“First of all, consider a contact management system. If you use Microsoft Outlook to manage your email then you might want to take a look at my company’s addin called HuntressLite or even our HuntressPro product. These products help you schedule follow-up activity with networking contacts along with helping you remember what you’ve discussed with the person in the past and the reason you wanted to get in touch with them again.
You may also want to consider a newsletter or a blog. You can ask the people that you meet at networking events if they are interested in subscribing and then add them to your list. If you do use a blog, make sure to allow comments so that you keep an active conversation going with your network.
And, by all means, connect with your contacts on LinkedIn. They will see on their home pages when you post great questions like this one and when you answer questions. They will also see when you make changes to your profile. Likewise, you can see the same thing for them which will also give you a good prompt to reconnect.
Finally, this is such a great question that I think I may write about it on my blog next week – so check it out at www.Arrow-Tips.com and thanks for the great idea!”
So I just fulfilled my promise, but I feel compelled to expand on the answer above so Jade gets a little something extra if she (not to mention you) takes the time to go to this link. I was invited to speak at the Professional Referral Organization for Women luncheon today and at the Cooper Connection Monthly Meeting last week where I gave a short version of my Fantastic Follow Up seminar and this very topic came up. Many of us attend great networking events collecting cards from wonderful people and then what do we do with them? Often they sit in a stack on our desk until the stack gets so tall it starts falling over and poof – there went some of your great networking contacts into the crack between the wall and your desk. How does this happen?
Of course the most common excuse I hear is “I don’t have enough time.” Yet we take the time out of our busy days to go to these events which are usually not free so why wouldn’t we take the time to reap the benefits of attendance by capturing our new contact information? The second most common excuse is the kicker – I have a card, can’t I just file it in my Rolodex? NO! Does filing a card in your Rolodex allow you to include that new contact in a mail merge? Does filling a card in your Rolodex allow you to have quick and easy access to the owner of the card’s phone number or email from your smart phone? Does filing a card in your Rolodex allow you to learn more about your network as a whole? Does filing a card in your Rolodex help you schedule a follow-up action with the new contact? Of course not.
Probably the most straight forward answer to Jade’s question is you keep up with your networking by scheduling meaningful follow up activities in a system that you will use with discipline. Using a Call List is imperative. Note, I did not say a To Do or Task List – no, you need to use a Call List. Everyone who networks needs to have a Call List that they access on a regular frequency (daily for people with business development responsibilities) else networking is pretty much pointless.
One final important point, follow up with new contacts as soon as possible to cement the connection – even if it is just a short 2 line email saying it was nice to meet them. Otherwise when you finally get around to adding the new contact to a mail merge list, they may not remember who you are and mistake your newsletter or mass communication as spam.
So there is my answer to Jade’s question – there were some other great ones on LinkedIn so check out the link if you have time and please feel free to comment on this post if you have some additional ideas.