this post was taken from an article written for the Bellmore Chamber of Commerce’s Monthly Newsletter
Welcome back friends. If you are reading this, I assume you have either enjoyed the 2 previous installments of “Tech Talk” or simply just have nothing better to do. If it is the later, I would also assume, with a bit of dismay, that you have not headed my advice to get out there and start using some of the social media platforms we have discussed. Remember, networking is a full time gig and there should always be someone to drop a line to or chat with. And there is my fancy little segway into our next topic of “Following Up and Staying in Touch”.
Let me propose a question. When you meet someone for the first time and find there is a general interest whether it is business or personal, what would you say the next logical step is? Usually, an exchange of contact information (cell phone number, business card, email, etc) is performed and conversations come to an end. You part ways with a “talk to you soon” or “see ya later”. What happens after that is very important. If you are making a friendly or personal connection, follow up time may not be as time sensitive as it is when business is involved. It is generally noted that follow up contact should be made within the first 48 hours of the previous contact. This is vital in assuring that any information or ideas the two parties may have exchanged is fresh and the intricacies of that conversation are not forgotten. Keeping track of contact information is another extremely important part of this whole puzzle and there are tools we can utilize to help us keep everything organized.
It is probably safe to assume that at least 75-80% of Chamber members have a PC with Windows installed. Windows machines generally come with some form of Microsoft Office and included in the software package is Outlook (an email, contact and calendar software). If you are part of the minority, I am sure you use Apple software that is comparable or perhaps have MS Office & Outlook installed. Outlook is a very powerful solution to help you A. Stay in touch (with the email portion), B. Keep your contacts organized (with the Contact portion), and C. Keep yourself organized (with the calendar).
When I meet someone new or spark a business interest with someone, I will add their contact information to my Outlook Contact and make a note in my Calendar to contact them in a day or two (or at an agreed upon date and time). I also make sure to add any notes or comments with their contact info (just like writing on the back of a business card). This helps me assure that I do not forget any important details in my old age. Be sure to get as much information from them as possible and be sure to obtain their email address and website address. The email address is great for a casual follow up contact, just to say “It was great to meet you and speak with you the other day. I look forward to speaking with you and learning more about your business soon.” We often shy away from speaking with people on the phone thinking we will be a “bother” and in this case, the email option allows the other person to get back to you at their availability.
Visiting someone’s website is a fantastic way to expand on any information you gathered during your conversation and hopefully learn a lot more about what they do and how you can benefit from a relationship with each other. From the other side, make sure that YOUR business card has your necessary contact information and if you have a website, put it on there. Make sure that your website’s content is up to date and that it represents yourself and your business in a way that coincides with the reputation you work so hard to achieve. A quality website is definitely a topic that we will discuss in an upcoming article.
Let’s take a quick review of what we’ve learned. Make sure to get as much pertinent contact information from your new connection as possible. Input this info into a program like Outlook and assign a reminder to follow up with this person within 48 hours to say “hello and thanks for chatting”. Be certain that all of your information is accurate and up to date and that any website you have represents your business in a way you are satisfied with.
Utilizing some pretty simple methods we can make sure that our valuable time spent networking and “meeting and greeting” does not go to waste. I think for our next article I will discuss what you can do with all of the contacts you have gathered and how you can incorporate them into your Facebook and LinkedIn efforts.
Thanks for stopping by again for another “Tech Talk” article. I hope you have enjoyed these articles and would love to get your feedback or questions. Please feel free to contact the Chamber at BellmoreCC (@) aol.com or myself directly at chamber (@) UBE-Inc.com with any ideas for future articles.
CEO – UBE, Inc.