Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Then you’ll be miles ahead by following up better and smarter than the hordes scrambling for the person’s attention. The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95 percent of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit. In fact, FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY FIELD. Making sure a new acquaintance retains your name (and the favorable impression you’ve created) is a process you should set in motion right after you’ve met someone.
Give yourself between twelve and twenty-four hours after you meet someone to follow up. If you meet somebody on a plane, send them an e-mail later that day. If you meet somebody over cocktails, again, send them an e-mail the next morning. For random encounters and chance meetings, e-mail is a fine tool for dropping a quick note to say, “It was a pleasure meeting you. We must keep in touch.” In such an e-mail, I like to cite something particular we talked about in the course of our conversation—whether a shared hobby or business interest—that serves as a mental reminder of who I am. When I leave the meeting, I put the name and e-mail address of the new acquaintance in my database and program my PDA or BlackBerry to remind me in a month’s time to drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch.
Another effective way to follow up is to clip relevant articles and send them to the people in your network who might be interested. When people do this for me, I’m tremendously appreciative; it shows they’re thinking about me and the issues I’m facing.
Here are a few more reminders of what to include in your follow-ups:
• Always express your gratitude.
• Be sure to include an item of interest from your meeting or conversation—a joke or a shared moment of humor.
• Reaffirm whatever commitments you both made—going both ways.
• Be brief and to the point.
• Always address the thank-you note to the person by name.
• Use e-mail and snail mail. The combination adds a personalized touch.
• Timeliness is key. Send them as soon as possible after the meeting or interview.
• Many people wait until the holidays to say thank you or reach out. Why wait? Your follow-ups will be timelier, more appropriate, and certainly better remembered.
• Don’t forget to follow up with those who have acted as the go-between for you and someone else. Let the original referrer know how the conversation went, and express your appreciation for their help.
Make follow-up a habit. Make it automatic. When you do, the days of struggling to remember people’s names—and of other people struggling to remember yours—will be a thing of the past.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz