Monday, December 31, 2007

JWN: Follow Up or Lose Out

Follow Up or Lose Out

The art of the follow up is the most crucial aspect of making a meaningful connection with somebody. What good is the first conversation you had with someone if you don't follow up and have another?

I have a stack of business cards on my desk that represents relationships I've started. Some are from the recent past that I've followed up with and stay in front of on a continual basis with my new system. However, others are from conferences or leadership events from my past that have fallen through the cracks because before I didn't take relationships as serious as they should be taken. Those cards motivate me and I guarantee every one of them will eventually know my name. It's only a matter of time.

Life is about the relationships you have. I say this frequently because it is a core value that is near and dear to my heart. It is true that I am a firm believer in some quality alone time to reflect and learn about yourself. But, there is something about a nice dinner or some drinks with a friend (or two or three) that makes life worth while.

Ben and I talk about this quite a bit because it usually hits us after a good VIP conversation. We learn at least one new thing from everybody we interact with; especially from our VIPs. It has been the most positive real life learning experience I could have chosen to embark on.

There is a key to these interactions though; the follow up. It is imperative to have a consistent and effective method for adding value to the people in your life. One of the ways that Ben and I absolutely get a kick out of is connecting people. The only way you can do that well though is by knowing who you know.

I manage that with a few methods. One is an incredible memory for people. I've always had it and I can dig up information out of the depths of my mind pretty handily. In the recent past as I've met more and more people through my efforts, I've had to create a system for managing facts about people. This is through a note card system.

When Bill Clinton was in college at Georgetown he kept an index card on every person he met. Each day he would write personal information about those people on their card and file it away. After I learned about this system I developed my own. Who may have a card in my file! (Really, I'm not a stalker.)

I do this because I generally care about you and because knowing who you are is important to me. That note card will help me effectively add value to you in the future. If I know who you are, then I can connect you to somebody I may meet tomorrow. That's just one power of relationships.

In October I spoke to a group of about 170 students at the Future Business Leaders of America District 8 Conference. One of my topics was "follow up." I got the students thinking about the importance of "who knows you" rather than just who you know.

Here is what I told them; re-packaged just for you!

NOTABLE: Who you meet doesn't matter if you don't follow up!

So Joseph, "How do I follow up effectively?" Well, here is my "Follow Up Success Time Table:"

1) Email - As soon as possible

2) Personal Note - Within 48 hours

3) Phone Call - Within two weeks

4) Periodic Value Adds - As often as possible but at least every three to six months

NOTABLE: Ben and I add value through the eZine you're reading right now.

These steps will help solidify a relationship with your new contact. In your interaction always reference personal information because it shows that you listened. You've got it buddy, you HAVE to listen!

Finally, stay true to the final piece of advice I bestowed upon the impressionable young minds in early October;

"Be passionate. Be genuine. Add value first!"

ACTION PLAN: Develop your own system to remember facts about the people you meet. Follow my "Success Time Table" and you will solidify a relationship with your new contact. Remember to periodically stop in to add some value.

Think about who you are and who you want to become. Find people in your dream job. Get in front of them and follow up!

For more information on how to make a powerful first impression, click here! For more information on how to small talk for a BIG effect, click here!

Best to you, ~JWN