Do “Do Coffee or Lunch” – Discover the Opporunities
How often have you run into a great connection at various networking events and share a super conversation, even a rough plan to somehow form an alliance to help grow mutual business opportunities. Each one proclaims, “I’ll call you and we’ll have coffee”. And then you both agree that a lunch date might just fit your schedules better. But as the event winds down, purses are collected, good byes are waved, and promises are made, and as you turn the key in the ignition to finally make your way home, all thoughts of meeting again vanish, like that last piece of aged cheddar on the cheese board. Days and weeks go by and no calls or emails are exchanged to close the loop on your vague commitments to meet again. You may have even misplaced your contacts’ business cards, or entered them in your email list, but can’t connect the names with the right faces. And yet you run into these same people over and over, and both parties again chat for periods of time, and promise to met again! This scenario repeats itself as the local business people make their rounds to all the important must do events in town; and maybe even at local conferences and workshops. It gets repetitive and both parties proclaim how it’s just been so busy lately, but again, no definite commitments are made. What is stopping us from closing the loop with people that can help us grow our businesses and can refer us to others, as well as become important business friends. It’s a matter of priorities…
Very importantly, I always make sure to connect with my new contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook, and make sure I include them in my feedback or comments on those pages..
And, I’ve made a couple of critical investments so I don’t forget to connect with the people I’ve conversed with at length at any networking event. One tip I picked up in my previous life in industry is to have my picture included on my business card so when I contact someone by phone or email, they recognize who I am right away. I’ve actually had people approach me and say “You must be Mary” because they have seen my picture on my card or other marketing materials. Also, I invested in a kind of notebook case for my iPhone. It has slots for business cards to give out and a pocket behind the slots for business cards that I collect from an event. In addition, I have a database of contacts for clients and others that I connect with. Within two days of meeting people I’ve spoken to at an event, I enter their contact information in my database, I tag them with name and date of the event where we met, and I follow up with an email with a special offer or discount attached. For my most interesting contacts, I follow up with an email or phone call asking for a specific date for lunch or coffee in the next two weeks that is a convenient day and time for them to meet me, and suggest a location that is about half way between us if distance is an issue.
When I hear back, I put the date on my calendar in advance so it’s not forgotten, and so my meeting doesn’t get overlooked due to either a personal or client appointment.
It becomes part of my daily schedule. This method has worked very effectively in helping me build my network, and make solid connections among like minded people who want to help each other grow. It’s the best way I’ve found so far to stay in touch and make commitments with people who are busy, but really want to form those all important alliances that strengthen our ability to keep ourselves and our businesses growing.