The networking event is over and like many business professionals, you have a ton of business cards and great leads from your networking function. Is your job done? What is the next step to building relationships? What can you do to get the most of your networking endeavors? How can you follow up and make a significant and productive impact? Listed below are key tips that any entrepreneur or business professional can use to develop great relationships and properly connect with their business counterparts for networking success.
Point of Contact
After receiving business cards and contact information from your colleagues, follow up within three days. Three days is the exact time needed to stay fresh on your contact’s mind. It also allows you to have some time to properly prepare an email, phone call or letter/correspondence to your business counterpart. If you decide to contact your business counterpart over three days of your meeting, you run the risk of losing that potential contact. Your business colleague will be less likely to remember you or the conversation or connection that you shared. They may also have misplaced or lost your contact info, if they did not already contact you. And they may be busy with work, family, career or school and will not have enough time to contact you. Do not allow much time to lapse when following up after meeting your contacts.
Set up A Meeting
After you have contacted your business counterpart, make it a point to schedule a follow up meeting. This is a great opportunity to build on your pre-mature relationship and find effective ways of conducting business. The meeting should be within two weeks of meeting your business counterpart. Make sure that if you are initiating the meeting, it is beneficial for both parties. You can suggest to meet your counterpart in their office or your office if it is convenient. Or, you can meet at a restaurant for breakfast or lunch. You can also choose a coffee shop, bookstore or cafe that is suitable for the both of you. Since you are initiating the meeting, it is only polite that you cover the tab. If your counterpart insists on paying their portion, that is perfectly fine.
Prepare for the Meeting
Now, that you have set up a meeting or one on one with your business counterpart, it is imperative that you prepare for the meeting or event. You should ask your counterpart to send information about themselves and their company so that you can familiarize yourself with their business, company, services or brand. Another good idea is to visit their website and learn about their business culture, organizational management, history/background and clientele/customers. This can give you great insight on how you can work together or assist your business counterpart. Also, identify key issues or solutions that can benefit your colleague. Brainstorm and create questions on how you can grow or assist them in their business.
A Day Before the Meeting
Once you have set up a meeting, done your research and are prepared for the meeting or event, make sure to confirm the meeting a day in advance. If there are any changes in time or venue let your counterpart know ahead of time as a form of respect. Also encourage your counterpart to bring brochures, pamphlets or additional material about their company, organization or services. Following up the day before and showing initiative, will increase your credibility and professionalism with your business counterpart.