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Armed and Dangerous to Help One Another - the Ideal Networking Outcome

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[I recently responded to a question posted on LinkedIn and thought I'd share this with the ActiveRain crowd in the hope that some of you will find some ideas useful.]
So you've been to a networking meeting -
what is the most effective way(s) to follow-up with the contacts you made?

Do YOU want to achieve the "No one forgets me" status? Do YOU wish to be front of mind if they need to connect with someone or ever think about YOUR product?

It is critically important to have a proven networking system or you will find yourself drowning in stacks of useless business cards of people who won't remember you and don't care less about you or your business.

Here's the system I've recently adopted and will continue to refine as I learn more from all of you gurus:

The evening that I arrive home with a handful of business cards, I use CardScan to add them to my Outlook database.

With the LinkedIn SEARCH function, I sort into two piles, those who are members and those who are not.

Everyone gets a personalized email (not the default message) via LinkedIn, recapping our conversation earlier and either (a) inviting them to join my professional network or
(b) explaining the benefits of LinkedIn and inviting them to join, again using a personalized text.

I stress the point that my goal is to HELP THEM get connected with people who might be of value in achieving THEIR goals and offer to personally introduce them to my circle. It is amazing how many dormant LinkedIn members I resurrect!

It's not about me selling them my stuff. I happen to have such fabulous service offerings that many of these contacts will become clients but that is not the objective. As one of our other contributors said so eloquently "In networking it is not how many connections you have, but how many you have created between others!"

I then scan THEIR business card and create a fabulous, glossy personalized "Pleasure to meet you" greeting card in my own handwriting from www.SendOutSpecialCards.com, that will arrive in the mail in 3-4 days. Often, I've taken a digital photo of people at the event, which makes an even more memorable card.

Next day, I make a personal phone call to say hello, make suggestions about who might be good contacts for them and answer questions about LinkedIn.

During the same call, I fill in any missing contact information and inquire about their birth date for my SendOutCards database. While I'm on the phone, I'm scheduling a birthday card to them, even if it's eleven months away.

Next, I invite them to the mailing list for a monthly Events Newsletter that I produce. This is no boring "outdated graphs of the stock market or real estate" newsletter. It's a neat summary of business networking opportunities, art gallery openings, fundraisers, wine tasting venues and more. [ www.kcEventsOnline.com ] Everyone says "yes" and loves receiving it.

Yes, business people have a social life too, so search for them on other social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, ActiveRain) and connect as "friends" there.

The net result? The stranger I just met at some random "Networking Event" and myself are now "plugged in", on a social and business level. We've shared lots of information and are connected through to one another's sphere of influence.

We are Armed and Dangerous to help one another!

Here's a bonus for those who are tired of driving across town for a "let's do Starbucks" meeting. With the variety of other activities and venues I promote in my newsletter and via Facebook, my new contact and I are now likely to cross paths frequently. We can skip the obligatory coffee and move to the next level of relationship building much faster.

So, will this help YOU achieve the "No one forgets me" status? Will YOU be front of mind if they need to connect with someone or ever think about YOUR product? Not unless you TAKE ACTION and implement a system!

I hope this is helpful. Thank you for providing me with a forum that required me to write this down. Now I can share this with my team who have been asking me to document my system.


View Philip Hulme's profile on LinkedIn

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