What is the Best Way to Follow-up?

When I taught management-theory classes at a college in Southern California, students would sometimes say to me, “You just walked us through ten different theories of management. What’s the best one to use?”

My answer, “The one you consistently apply.” 

Why would I say this? The reason there are different ways of managing people is because people are different. They have different personalities, different approaches, different preferences, and different techniques. The tried-and-true method that you will consistently and effectively apply is the one that is going to work best for you.

Follow-up in business networking is a similar issue. When you get a referral from someone, when you meet someone new,when you receive a gift, when your invited visitor attends your networking meeting, or you tell someone, “I’ll send you their contact info,” your follow-up is a crucial part of building a business relationship and maintaining your credibility.

For example, I know that handwritten notes are considered to be one of the best ways to follow up. The challenge for me is . . . I just don’t do them consistently. Therefore, are they really the best technique for me? No, they are not, because I know I’m not going to do them regularly. I prefer to follow-up with an email message, a phone call, or better yet an online-card using something like the SendoutCards.com system.

Two Templates for Follow-up Notes

Here are two sample templates that you can use with email or a hand-written note that will make it easy for you to follow-up with new contacts.

  1. Follow-up with people who may become valuable contacts in the future:

Hello Jim–

My name is John Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day at the Chamber of Commerce event. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed our conversation–and it sounds like you’re really doing well and staying busy.

Anyway, it was good talking with you, and if I can help you out in any way, please let me know.

John

  1. Follow-up with people who might become new clients or referral partners right now:

For email, use this subject line: Nice to Meet You–Chamber of Commerce Event May 23rd

Hi Jim-

My name is Jane Smith, and I’m the consultant who met you the other day at the Chamber of Commerce event. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed our conversation and was hoping I could learn a little bit more about what you do.

I’m thinking we can get together for a quick cup of coffee. That way, if I run into someone who could use your services, I can point them in your direction. How does next Tuesday morning sound for us to meet at the ABC Coffee Shop?

Again, it was great talking with you, and if I can help your business in any way, please let me know.

Jane


One more tip: 
Regardless of whether you choose to use these templates when writing follow-up notes, always be sure to first remind the person of who you are and where you met so your note doesn’t get instantly discarded.

 

Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your personal follow-up is an easy way to show how considerate you can be. Your follow-up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may not have thought you were memorable at first. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.

The truth is, almost any follow-up method will work if you use it well and consistently. The best method for you is whichever one you are most comfortable with and can do every time the need arises. 

The reason is simple: whatever you do, you’ve got to do it well, and if you feel obligated to keep doing something that you don’t like to do, you won’t do it well–at least not consistently. A late-arriving or half-hearted note in your own messy handwriting is going to make a worse impression than a “less proper” but more heartfelt and immediate phone call.

Have you found a follow-up method that works well for you? Share it in the comments.

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