ABC’s of Follow Up – B is for Building Bridges

by on 03/15/2010

Bridge

Follow Up is an important part of your ability to build relationships.  Actually, your follow up is the bridge that shortens the distance between know, like, and trust.

As Bob Burg says in Endless Referrals, “with all things being equal, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.”

As you make your way through a networking event or opportunity, the urge to go for quantity (as in getting as many business cards as possible) should be avoided.  Instead, turn your focus to 2 or 3 quality relationships that you would like to build.

You are much more likely to be able to carve out the time to do the follow up when you are looking at 3 contacts rather than 23 contacts.

To start bridging the gap between the known and unknown, let your follow up be about learning about the other person and thanking them for taking the time to visit with you at the event where you met.  An easy way to do this learning process is to visit their website, or their blog.  There, you can learn about what is important to them, or what makes them tick.  You could also do a Google search on their name or their business to see what else comes up.  In doing so, you’ll be able to comment on something of value to them in your follow up.  Some might think this is a little like stalking, and if overdone, I would agree.  However, anyone who writes a blog, always appreciates knowing that someone has actually read it.

Your follow up with an individual that you have recently met should always be more about them than it is about you.  If you make it about you too early, you will come off as pushing for a sale and that is not what building relationships is about.  You are building a bridge to them so that you can grow past the knowing stage into the liking stage and then ultimately to the trusting stage.

These stages take time.  Bridges are not built overnight and your follow up strategy will not create relationships worth having in the short run either.  These are long term strategies.  Over the long term, you and they begin to understand where you click together, where the opportunities are for cooperation, collaboration, or the sharing of referrals, or the opportunity to do business with each other.

So what to do?

Send them a thank you email within 24 hours.  Thank them for spending time with you at the event and mention either something that you spoke about face to face, or mention something that you found on their website or blog.  You can let them know that they inspired you to learn more … and that you are glad that you did.

Send them a hand written note within 48 hours (sooner if you can).  I know you have heard this a 1000 times.  Have you done it?  That’s what I thought.  Hand written means, by the way, hand written.  You will stand out from all the rest when you do this.

Call them to request a time to meet if this is appropriate to your discussion when you met face to face originally.  Actually, this part of your follow up should be anticipated when you meet someone that you would like to be one of the 2 or 3 folks you intend to do this type of follow up with.  That means that when you do meet someone that you resonate with and would like to get to know better, be sure to ask them if another meeting for the purpose of getting to know each other better appeals to them.  If they say yes, then this is the next step.  Follow up to set up a time and a place to meet.  And, when you do this be sure to have an outline of what is in it for them to have this meeting with you.  Again, this needs to be more about them than it is about you … so no bait and switch here.  Please do not tell someone that you want to get to know them better and then spend the whole time talking about yourself, your product, or your service.  This type of behavior is sure to sabotage any chance you had of creating trust in your relationship.

If after you have a second meeting with this person you want to continue building the relationship, you can then create a series of dates on your calendar to stay in touch via email and mail along with phone calls etc.  The frequency of your touches at this point are determined by the outcome of your meeting and the mutually beneficial relationship that you are building.

So, get out there and build some bridges.  Remember it’s about the quality and not the quantity.  Stay focused, caring, and giving …. the foundation you build and the consistency of your efforts will impact your business growth.  Trust me on this, the pieces will all fit together … to your success!

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