Almost everyone has been guilty of it along the way.  And almost everyone knows better.  ”The Fortune is in the Follow Up” is pretty much a mantra, but how many people really follow up with every single prospect they meet along the way?  The more usual circumstance is the ever growing stack of business cards shoved into a pile, box, or drawer somewhere.  Everyone means to follow up with them, but as time passes, the hesitance grows until finally that potential goldmine is just tossed away quietly.  But what to do?

For starters, stop the bleeding!

The effort put into making all of these contacts is a hemorrhage if you don’t work quickly to start branding yourself in their mind.  If they don’t hear from you soon, your business card will most likely be eaten by the stack in a dusty drawer somewhere in their office the same way their business card does.

Networking groups, leads lunches, chamber events, business mixers, speed networking socials…  All of these events can yield a ton of contacts in a very short amount of time.  Even a fumbling wall flower can leave with a dozen business cards in hand.  The issue is what to do next.  For most people, this is where their process stops.  And that is exactly what makes it such a profitable opportunity if you know how to take the correct next step.

Hand it Over to a System

Well, not entirely.  You don’t want to take yourself entirely out of the equation.  Within the next month, you want to reach out to them again, even if it’s just a short phone call or meeting for coffee.  The bulk of your follow up, however, can be delegated to automated systems.  Not only does a system handle the immediate follow up for you, but the ongoing, long term follow up as well.  Even if the only thing the person ever sees is your name as the sender of an email now and then, that’s enough to remind them that you exist, and renew your branding in their mind.  This way, you can go on about the important parts of your business.

How does a system work?

In it’s simplest form, a truly automated system used by the savvy marketers in todays environment is an email marketing system, sometimes known as an “autoresponder.”  What this does is allow you to prewrite emails that you want sent to people after you input their information.  The system not only sends the emails for you, but will personalize them as well.  Say for example, any new person you meet, you want to send them three emails:

Email one, sent the day after you meet them – A quick note saying “Nice to meet you”

Email two sent the day after email one – A quick note saying “Here’s what I do”

Email three – sent the day after email three – a quick note with some examples of happy clients

With an email marketing autoresponder, you simply tell the system what you want each of these emails to say.  Then, instead of you having to write the same basic email over and over again (and for each of the dozen people you meet at a time), and remember to send the second email the day after, and the third the day after that, the system does all of this for you automatically.  All you have to do is put their name and email (and any other information you choose)  into your system, and it sends the emails for you.

This also allows you to write a single email, and the system will then personalize it for each person on your contacts list, and send them a personalized copy.  Newsletters, product announcements, event announcements, and anything else you would want to broadcast to any person you know become a breeze.

The money is in the list…

Let’s compare two people, side by side.  One collects a ton of contacts, but never follows up (we’ll call them the “Drive-by Networker”).  The other, instead of the collect and forget method, follows up with a system (We’ll call them the “Savvy Networker”).

To make this example easy, we’ll assume that each meets 25 new contacts a week through various networking events for a total of 100 monthly.

The Drive-by Networker

Collects 100 in month 1, but doesn’t follow up with many.

Collects 100 in month 2, but doesn’t follow up with many.  Also, about 50 of the people they met in month 1 have already forgotten them.

Collects 100 in month 3, but doesn’t follow up with many.  50 or so from month 2 have already forgotten them, and about 40 more from month one have now forgotten them.

Collects 100 in month 4, but doesn’t follow up with many…  And by now the issue becomes apparent:

Within a short space of time, all of those contacts have forgotten all about the Drive-by Networker because people forget unused information (even information they dearly want to remember) at a predictable rate.

By years end, they may have a grand total of 10-20 people tops out of the 1200 they met that remember them, and that most likely won’t pay the bills.  They are basically starting over from scratch each and every day.  This is also why it takes so many small businesses so long to get off the ground and established:  They are writing their marketing message in the shifting sands of the human memory.

The Savvy Networker

Collects 100 in month 1, adds them all to their system for follow up.

Collects 100 in month 2, adds them all to their system for follow up.  95 of the people from month one still remember them, and some have forwarded their awesome newsletter to some friends, who have subscribed also, for a grand total of 100 people retained.

Collects 100 in month 3, adds them all to their system for follow up.  The 100 from month 1 have grown to 105.  95  from month 2 still remember them, and have invited more to make 100.

Collects 100 in month 4, adds them all to their system for follow up.  The 105 from month 1 have grown to 110.  100 from month 2 have grown to 105.  Month 3….

And by now you get the picture of the massive difference.  By years end, the Savvy Network has well more than 1200 people that remember them and what they do off the top of their head, any time they (or the people around them) need that service.  They received ongoing communication and seen examples of happy customer testimonials along the way.

And here’s the kicker:  It takes mere minutes to do all of this per week, because the Savvy Marketer delegates the bulk of the time consuming work to a system that handles it for them.

What to do Next

This might be new information for you, or you might already know all of this stuff but just need a guiding hand to actually implement it all.  Either way, you can reach out for help by clicking here and dropping me a note.  I’ll help you pick the best system for your needs (you have to be careful you use the right one so you don’t start building a nice list, just to have your account shut down for an obscure policy violation) and help you get started.

 

Image Credits:

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ben Wehde

Ben Wehde is a leader in the crusade to help more people break free of their dependence on employers. He trains people on how to develop stronger business presences through both online and offline methods. Learn more about Ben Wehde by clicking here.

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