Is it ok to add someone to my automatic follow up campaign I just met?
The answer is yes and no. Business relationships aren't built by collecting business cards at networking events and then immediately opting them in to your newsletter campaigns. That being said, having an automated keep in touch program can be a good way to warm up contacts once you have properly introduced yourself.
Instead of just adding business cards to your shoebox, try these steps for successfully following up when networking:
- When you first meet someone at a networking event, try actually meeting them. Instead of trying to sell yourself and shove as many of your business cards into as many hands as possible, make it a point to get to know a few people well. Find out about their business, where they are from, what other organizations they belong to, and what they are trying to get out of networking.
- Follow up with a phone call the next day. Don't worry if they don't answer, you can leave them a message. The call should follow this format. "Hi, I just wanted to call and say how nice it was to meet you last night. How did the event go for you?" Again, don't use this phone call as an opportunity to pitch, just get to know them better.
- Send an email after the call. This email should say, "I am glad we got to connect. If you ever have any questions about _________ (the industry you are in.) Don't hesitate to ask. Here are my contact details, please let me know if I can help with anything. **(Include a full email signature that has your contact details, picture, links to your social media profiles, and website.)
The one thing you should notice about all 3 steps that at no point did you have to sell or even talk about yourself. I actually found this to be such a relief when I finally figured it out. It is so much easier to approach people if you have a genuine desire to learn about who they are.
Once you have established a connection, you can feel comfortable continuing to keep in touch in a more automated way. You've reached out to them and have now put the ball in their court. If they want to reach back out, the regular communications sent by your automated system will provide the perfect opportunity.
Just as your initial contact with them didn't require any selling, your automated communications shouldn't either. Just say hi, how are you, and reference something interesting that they will appreciate receiving and will put a smile on their face. The email you send doesn't even have to reference your industry, it is actually preferable if it doesn't.
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