You love to know how a story ends and your networking contacts are the same.
When you keep those who provided you with leads, networking referrals, contacts, etc. with an update on the outcome, it gives people a sense of self-satisfaction in two ways. You give affirmation that their networking provided value (1X) and that you appreciated their efforts (2X).
The sense of satisfaction and ability to help is a great motivator for all of us when it comes to networking. It’s this sense that you want to build into your networking relationship, as it almost ensures you will network in the future.
This is not a step that not everyone takes and by doing so, you set apart your relationship from their others, because those with great satisfaction have greater meaning and depth.
I can share from my own experience to demonstrate the power of the follow-up. I’ve made over 500 introductions to my network and have received 15 follow-up notes. I can tell who each person who sent me those notes and will share with them again and again.
Like any follow-up note, you have another opportunity to offer to share your network and also remind them of what you are seeking, thus keeping the spirit of mutual networking going. However, these notes are much more powerful than general update e-mail, so they are more likely to get a response.
One big question is how do you follow-up to situations that do not go as expected? You always send a follow-up note. Here are some ideas you can use to respond to different situations.
What if the meeting was a clunker? I was honest and said as much as it’s what they probably heard already. You can be professional, prepared, etc., but a networking meeting may not go well as you don’t connect with the other person. It’s just a matter of when, not if, so take it as part of the journey.
What if the other person was a not a fit? If someone makes a referrals for a specific purpose (connect into company, etc.) that was not a fit, then it’s best to let them know. My follow-up note shared thoughts on where the person would be a good referral. For example, I got someone who was great in an industry, but not for the specific company I sought.
What if the other person was a dud? I’ve had referrals of people who were simply poor networkers (lack of interest, incredibly busy, etc.) or where the connection was not strong. My follow-up note acknowledged that I met with the person and that there were no immediate areas to assist one another.
What if the person was no-show/no-response? My note stated that I had reached out and we had been unable to connect.
I know that sending these notes adds another layer of work, but well working the investment into the long-term relationship building and will pay dividends both today and in the future. The good thing about these notes is you can fit them in when you have time, so I usually did loads of these while watching a football game, etc.
Good luck today!