6 Practices That Make You and Your Follow-Up Stand Out

networking follow-up

Business people spend a lot of time and effort attending networking events and networking online via social media. Sadly, when it comes to following up on the connections and introductions we make, too many drop the ball.  “Follow up” has become a bit of a lost art.

Following up with people in a thoughtful and strategic way should be the standard that defines your professional style, as well as the professional style of others in your network.

6 Tips for Great Follow-Up

1. Practice the 3 Ps: Be Prompt, Proactive, and Patient

Answering and following up with people as soon as you can with your thank you, introduction, information or any request or need shows your respect, interest and that there is value to share.

Prioritize your weekly and daily follow-up and stay focused on preparing and sending a thoughtful note, letter, social media post.

Let people know specifically what you enjoyed about meeting with them and what you see as the next steps.

An example might be: “Dear Bill, I really enjoyed meeting you at the ABC Group yesterday and our conversation about the importance of ‘branding’. I will send you a great article I saw about this.”

Also, review their main social media platform and activities, blog, video or podcast and get familiar with what content they feature. Use this information in conversation starters or to feature them in one of your posts.

Be patient with people responding. There are so many things that are going on in people’s lives. If they don’t respond in a few days, then send a respectful reminder or note that simply says: “John, I just wanted to make sure the information you asked me to send was received.”

There are four important benefits of being proactive in business and in sales: Responding rather than reacting is most efficient. It builds customer loyalty. It demonstrates competence. And, it reduces frustration by eliminating errors.

2. Start and Engage in Meaningful Conversations

Communications should always begin and continue with authenticity and a willingness to engage so that you exchange knowledge and forge a strong mutual connection as a starting point.

Make sure your motives and intent demonstrate a desire to help others. The give-first mentality shows that you care about others, and that will lead to them caring about you.

Find and focus on your commonalities and shared values with people and that can set things in motion.

If you have done your homework, then opening a conversation with someone you like and know is as easy as: “Hi Judy, great to see you again. I really liked that sales article you recently wrote. I could really relate to the frustration of getting clients to be consistent with updating their marketing activities.”

Here are 7 conversation starters that can open doors, as well as a few things not to say.

3. Find and Embrace the Unexpected and Outrageous

Delivering good or great follow-up and service today is expected and considered sub par. Employers and customers expect nothing short of exceptional.

The bar is higher than it’s ever been and competition is the fiercest it’s ever been.

Delivering “unexpected or outrageous” services and follow-up can really change perception. Companies and people that do unexpected things that make our experiences so much more memorable, make us feel special and valued.

Customers appreciate companies that put extra effort into the experience their customers are having. Take the knowledge you have of your customers and clients and think about specific. Consider customized things that are common sense, humane things you can do to have a big impact upon them.

  • Spend more one-on-one time.
  • Plan a meet-up or get-together in a unique place.
  • Provide an endorsement or introduction.
  • Help people when you see they need help because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Be interested in people and ask about their interests, values, hobbies, and family.
  • Send a simple handwritten, personalized follow-up note.
  • Remember names and specific things about individuals.
  • Always go the extra mile to make sure people have what they need.
  • Don’t assume, ask questions.

Check out these outrageous concierge requests and what one lifestyle company did to follow up with their client and make them happy.

4. Demonstrate Mindfulness and Gratitude

Some of the most undervalued and powerful qualities in business are respect, humility and kindness. Think about how those things impact you and make them a regular part of your relationship activities.

A kind word, encouragement, acknowledging people’s accomplishments, or a simple thank you are opportunities to show our character and personality. Never get too busy or too successful to be humble and grateful. You are successful because of others. Keep the ego in check at all times and rely on your support system to help you do this.

A study by Bersin & Associates underscores the bottom-line implications of saying thank you in the workplace. It reveals that companies that “excel at employee recognition” are 12 times more likely to enjoy strong business results.

5. Let Go and Move On

Be selective, strategic and persistent and respect people’s time, but know when it’s time to step away and move on.

Not everyone is in it for the right reasons or to make it happen. Define and refine who is worth your time, energy and attention and focus on them. There are no excuses for not keeping in touch and following up today.

Email marketing, social media, video, texting, podcasting, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or even the mail are all excellent tools and platforms you can use to connect.

Pick the platforms that work best for you and your customers, clients and prospects and find the perfect blend of in-person and online networking and communication activities. Use them regularly and you will stand out.

6. Remember to HEAR

Also remember to HEAR.  HEAR stands for making sure you practice:

  • Humility,
  • Engage people,
  • be Authentic and
  • Respond whenever possible.

Now go do some outrageous networking follow-up and watch what happens.

Thank You Photo via Shutterstock

Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.