There is a delicate balancing act in networking. You don’t want to appear too eager – as if you had nothing better to do – while also following up in a way that shows you are thoughtful and attentive. So, what does that look like? Perhaps you have a pile of business cards floating around and the best of intentions, but you’re not sure of the best approach? Here are a few quick ideas designed to help you plan your next move.

Rate it right away: Within an hour or two of meeting someone, rate your need to follow-up. Is this someone you really want to connect with? Are they a medium level contact or someone with whom you really have no connection? When you do a rating right away the interaction is fresh in your mind and you can accurately assess your next move, even if you don’t have time to immediately act. This practice helps you avoid the “what is this business card?” reaction or the “was I supposed to do something for Amber after our meeting?” Which leads to the next point:

ALWAYS keep your promises: The worst networking sin is saying you’ll do something and then failing to deliver. Besides being a flake, you are spoiling your reputation with everyone in the circle of the person you disappointed. Whether you said you’d like to meet for coffee or you promised to forward some helpful information, KEEP YOUR PROMISES! That’s why “rate it right away” is important as well because you can make notes about promises you’ve made and you’ll be better at follow up.

Keep clear notes: Every sales professional knows this is the key to success, so create a note taking system which works for you. Ever notice the people who thoughtfully remember little details about you? Maybe they have a great memory, but more likely they have a great note system. Even if you never do a bit of business with someone, your attention to detail will stand out in the mind of the person you are connecting with every time.

Be sure to be timely: No networking follow-up should be more than a week after your initial visit and hopefully, just a day or two after. Depending upon your promise (if you made one) you can judge how quickly to follow-up. If this is an important contact or someone who gets a lot of people trying to connect with them, put more thought into your next communication with them. Is a hand-written note the right approach? Maybe your email follow-up has a specific reference to let them know you were paying attention during your visit. Quality effort and personalization are important here. Think about it and you will stand out from the crowd.

When you look back at your day or week you should feel you’ve done the most with those you’ve met and that can only happen if you have a system. Use this Monthly Memo as a starting point and let me know what else should be included in this conversation. Have a great June!

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