I was recently asked my opinion on the timing of follow-up at a networking event.
“What was the proper protocol? Should the person seek personal information if only given a business card, and how soon after the meeting can a phone call be placed?”
These are excellent questions and come with answers you may not be comfortable with.
Attending Networking Events is a good idea as long as you have the proper objectives in mind. These formal get-togethers ARE NOT intended to sell your wares. They ARE NOT scheduled to acquire bags of business cards, so when you return home you can call people to sell your wares. They are not tradeshows. So why attend in the first place?
It may be true that nothing good happens until you sell something, but this simple credo doesn’t mean you can speed up the process. And “sales” is a process. And “sales” takes time to simmer. You know you can’t cook a steak by simply turning up the burners to “high.” This results in a burnt, flavorless disaster. Slow and steady does it. And networking is just the initial step, and nothing more.
Nothing good is going to happen until I feel comfortable and elect to trust you and your professionalism. And yes, this too takes time. Your purpose for attending Networking events is to introduce yourself to as many people as possible with a single mission in mind. You will want to isolate those you feel drawn to as a result of their professionalism, personality, confidence level, and business acumen. Trust me, there are not too many candidates in the room who fit this bill.
Once you do find one or two, you will want to establish a “next-step” right then and there. Be careful. You do not want to set yourself up for failure by calling them at the wrong time, or to appear overly anxious to adhere to your personal agenda. So, how can you do this?
By suggesting a logical and non-obtrusive “next step” right then and there. “Mike, I find your views on this topic refreshing. Do you think we can schedule some time over a cup of coffee to compare some of the challenges we both may be facing in the next week or so?”
You will save a bunch of time and unnecessary stress by confronting this question right from the giddy-up. Either way, you now can move on to your next conversation knowing that you won’t be wasting the most valuable asset you have… your time.
As an offshoot to this strategy, a couple of things may result.
- You will find yourself looking forward to attending future events.
- You will meet more meaningful business associates who think and act like you. And remember that people enjoy the company of people who exhibit the same traits and beliefs they do.
But, what about those business cards you collected last night? Personally, I would send them an email before calling. I would word my email by first applauding their refreshing position on whatever it was you talked about, and then, invite them to a cup of coffee to continue the discussion.
In all probability, you will not receive many replies. Send a second email worded the exact same way three days later. If still no reply, start looking forward to that next event where you can put into motion your new strategy… finding the good guys!
Mike Marchev is the author of the sales book titled Become The Exception and is a popular speaker at industry events. You can receive a complimentary copy of his Special Report titled “Your 12-Word Marketing Plan.” Email Mike and put the number “12” in the subject box. Also, ask about his 3rd Annual Training Cruise coming in November. Mike@MikeMarchev.com.