How many times have you seen an entrepreneur (maybe even yourself) go to a networking event, meet a bunch of good people, then leave and never talk to them again? Too often, right? And it’s not because he doesn’t like them or that he never wants to see them again; it’s because he’s a busy, busy person with so much going on that he can’t even remember what he had for breakfast, let alone reconnect with individuals he just met.
It really is a shame, because such new contacts are where future business is born.
Don’t be misled; it’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important–it’s the ones you turn into lasting relationships. There’s quite a difference. Try making 10 cold calls and introducing yourself. OK, how well did that go?
Now call five people you already know and tell them you’re putting together a marketing plan for the coming year and you would appreciate any help they might be able to provide, in the form of either a referral or new business.
Better results behind Door No. 2, right? Of course. You already had a relationship with these folks and, depending on how deep it was, most of them would be glad to help you.
So, here’s the question: How can you deepen the relationships with people you already know to the point where they might be willing to help you out in the future?
Here are four quick steps to get you moving in the right direction:
- Give your clients a personal call. Find out how things went with the project you were involved in. Ask if there’s anything else you can do to help. Important: Do not ask for a referral at this point.
- Make personal calls to all the people who have helped you or referred business to you. Ask them how things are going. Try to learn more about their current activities so you can refer business to them.
- Put together a hit list of 50 people you’d like to stay in touch with this year. Include anyone who has given you business in the past 12 months (from steps 1 and 2) as well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Send them cards on the next holiday (In the U.S., it would be Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc.).
- Two weeks after you’ve sent them cards, call them and see what’s going on. If they’re past clients or people you’ve talked to before, now is the perfect time to ask for a referral. If they’re prospects, perhaps you can set up an appointment to have coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services.
See how easy that was? After a few weeks, you’ll have more than enough social capital to tap into the rest of the year.
Social capital is the international currency of networking, especially business networking. If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you’ll find that the benefits that flow from these intangible investments will not only be rewarding in themselves, but they will multiply your material returns many times over.