You know that one-off meetings are likely to do little, so you always plan your follow-up strategy, right? It doesn’t matter whether you meet someone face-to-face or virtually, through formal networking, at a CLE seminar, or while you’re waiting for hours at the DMV… The best connections mean nothing if you can’t cultivate a relationship. (Unless, of course, you get business immediately and cultivate a relationship while you’re serving the client, but that’s rather uncommon.)
So, how well do you prepare yourself to follow up with the people on your A-List—the top-priority people with whom you follow up with most frequently and with the most personalization? (If you’re not sure what an A-list is or how to use it, review Chapter 12 of The Reluctant Rainmaker, Third Edition.) In other words, how do you know what your new contact will find interesting enough that they’ll welcome your efforts to stay in touch?
Prepare yourself with these three steps:
- Immediately after you meet someone who has a high probability of fitting your A-list, make notes about where you met and what you learned. I like to use Evernote to maintain these notes so that I’ll have access on any device, in any location. You may have access to a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system through your firm or on your own. Whatever system you use, the key is to keep good records. You never know when the information will matter, so if you learn that her son Fred plays volleyball at the University of Iowa, note that. You’ll thank yourself when you drop your contact a note to congratulate her on her son’s performance in the national semifinals.
- Set a Google alerts on your new contact’s name and/or company. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get an email whenever your key contacts are mentioned online? That’s exactly what Google Alerts does. (Be sure to put a Google Alert on your own name, too.) You can also set Alerts on relevant topics. Consider sending these to a secondary email address so that your critical emails aren’t hidden in a flood of alerts.
- Connect with your new contact on LinkedIn. Depending on how complete your contact’s profile is, you may pick up useful information right away. And if your new contact is active on LinkedIn (liking and sharing news stories, for example, rather than being a passive user), you’ll get an idea of what catches his or her attention.
Use these three steps to determine what your new contact will find valuable or interesting, as well as what will demonstrate that you’re paying attention. That’s the secret to follow-up contacts that build relationships.
P.S. Did you miss my recent webinar Business Development for a Profitable Practice? No worries: you can still access it here and learn a simple way to modify your business development tactics so you can continue growing your book when circumstances outside your control change.