Saturday, March 3, 2007

Follow Up

Many people think that making contact with new people is what networking is all about. Not true! Following up is the most important part of networking - otherwise why make new contacts?

When you first meet someone you make a judgement about whether you like them. As the relationship progresses, you make further judgements about their ability and reliability. NRG research has shown developing trust is the key to reducing risk in relationships.

The most effective way of building relationships is by having a face-to-face, or 1-2-1, meeting. Here is a simple, pragmatic list when choosing who to arrange follow-up meetings with:

  • Do I like them?
  • Are they interesting?
  • Are there points of contact?

The objectives of having a 1-2-1 meeting are to:

  • Confirm you like them;
  • Build rapport;
  • Research their business;
  • Appraise skill level, experience, qualifications and ability;
  • Establish if continuing to developing the relationship further is a good use of your time.

Here are some questions you might ask that will give you a great understanding of the other person:

  • Why did you choose your present role?
  • What is your expertise?
  • How do you know you did a good job?
  • What is your biggest project currently?
  • What contacts are looking for?
  • How can I help you? (make sure you mean this!)

Note they are all open questions and geared to understand what makes them tick. People enjoy talking about themselves and these questions are designed to get people talking passionately about what they do, and about their successes.

If there is a key objective for networking, it should be for you to try and make connections and introductions for the other person. This should be your top networking objective.

If you agree to do something as a result of this meeting, make sure you do it in the time you agreed. It's all about building trust.

Finally, find something you can do to add value to your network that demonstrates your value and expertise. This may be as simple as a regular telephone call or email sending them a relevant article. You may wish to develop the relationship further and offer to help them (to demonstrate your expertise) or even work together on a joint project.

The key to developing relationships is to follow up!

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