networking exercise: follow-up and follow through

today’s LA area chamber networking exercise was about follow-up and follow through in making and keeping contacts. i always like to think i’m better at this than i am, but that seems to be a trend very common with people who do a lot of networking [i recently heard some advice that simply following through will put you in the top 95% of your field simply because people don’t do it!].

the idea was to go through a list of conditions of meeting people, and collaborate on what follow-up efforts best fit each situation. i worked with pamela edwards of innovative feng shui on improving our follow-up, the questions & answers are below:

what is the first thing you do when you receive a business lead?
research the lead online, email to make contact.

how do you acknowledge receipt of the lead?
thank the referrer with a personal call or email.

how do you qualify the lead?
research online, ask the referrer for background information, make a research call directly.

what steps do you take to contact the lead?
initial email with an invite to connect, follow up phone call, send an intro pack by mail.

what’s your strategy for connecting with the lead?
once qualified, set up a personal meeting to get to know each other and our businesses goals and see if we can work together. if not, see if we can refer each other.

what is your personal commitment to returning phone calls?
i return phone calls within 24 hours [personally, i prefer to find a best time to talk rather than return calls within an hour if i’m less focused].

what is your personal commitment for responding to emails?
i reply to emails asap [for some reason i can always craft a good email response in a busier setting than a phone call, so i do what i’m best at on the asap schedule].

how do you keep the referring person abreast of the lead?
rather than keep a set schedule for this, i do it at the natural milestones of the relationship. if the lead and i make plans, i take time to thank the referrer again. if i don’t hear from them, i give a week or so and ask the referrer if there is anything i should be aware of. if we work together, i usually follow up with the success of the project and another thanks [you can’t be too thankful for good referrals!].

what do you do to acknowledge leads that result in new business?
i don’t currently have a set discount kickback for referrers, but i will often kick down small favors or package extras with projects for those of my clients who have sourced new work for me.

how do you respond to requests for information on your business?
i have a lot of channels in place for clients and prospects to find information in their preferred forum. i usually invite them to view my web site with direct links in an email, i ask if they’d like to receive an intro pack, which is a printed sample of my work and intro to my services. i also post lots of start-up information in the about section of my site, which i’m happy to explain in person, but it’s also available to anyone looking for information online, including past client testimonials. finally, if they’d like to meet up and get to know each other better, i can bring a portfolio with printed samples of my work.

and finally, driving the point home is this biznik article i found corroborating the lack of follow up that could use vast improvement: How to Get Clients: One Thing You Must Do to Turn Prospects Into Clients by Sue Clement

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