It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.
What does that statement bring up for you? Do you think that it means you must have gone to the “right” school, been born into the “right” family, interned at the “right” company?
Networking is all about relationships…
The way the phrase is stated – with an emphasis on “who” – implies that we must know the “right” people to get ahead. Dig deeper and you will understand that the “know” part of “who you know” carries the most weight.
“Know” does not mean you connected with them on LinkedIn. It means you have knowledge of them and they of you. “Know” indicates a relationship.
Are you forgetting this all-important step in networking?
Breaking the ice is the first step. But beyond that initial introduction, how do you get to know someone?
The most forgotten step in networking is the follow-up. Those stacks of business cards on your desk? Yes, we all have them. So let’s make a process to make sure that we follow-up. It’s not as challenging as you might think. Really, I promise!
To make networking a success, follow a simple follow-up plan:
- Exchange business cards. Do you think this is obvious? You would be surprised how many times I encounter people at networking events without a card.
QUICK TIP – Ladies, put a few extra cards in your wallet. Gents, slip a few extra cards in your jacket pockets.
- Write a note on the card about the person or the follow-up. Most times you can do this right in front of the person and it solidifies the follow-up. If not appropriate, make notes before you leave the event or as soon as you get back to the office.
- Connect on LinkedIn. Included a personal note in the LinkedIn request and add that you will follow up by email.
QUICK TIP – If you are a professional and not using LinkedIn, get on it now.
- Send an email to:
a. Request the follow up meeting
b. Provide the resource you promised
c. Connect the person to another in your network
d. Other specific action
- Decide your next action step and add to your system.a. If you sent a follow-up email, make sure you receive a reply. If not, follow-up with a phone call. Email filters may prevent your message from getting through.
b. If you provided a resource, consider the next step:
i. Are they a good fit for other resources you have? Ask permission to add to your email list.
ii. Is a meeting or conversation the next best step? Mark your calendar to request the meeting.
iii. Is an occasional personal outreach the way to maintain the relationship? Schedule it.
c. If you connected or introduced them to another, note it in your CRM for future conversations. Decide where they fit under “b” as a resource you provided.
d. If it was another specific action, use a, b, or c as tools to decide the next action step.
- Monitor and maintain. If you use a CRM (Client Resource Management) system, make sure the contact is in the system and appropriate steps above noted.
Follow-up is your key to networking success.
Follow-up will make all your “networking” efforts worth it. This is where relationships get built. Otherwise, you are just another business card on someone’s desk!
Give this a try for the next month and let me know the results! Commit to the basic follow-up guidelines I’ve outlined for you above, then tell me what your own experience was like. What did you do well? What would you do differently going forward? Was it easier than you thought?