How many times have you gotten someone’s card and then ended up throwing it away instead of following up with them?
I posted this last week on my Instagram story…
Needless to say, there were a few people who were NOT fans of it.
Here’s the thing…
I meet SO many new people every single week that if we didn’t have a real conversation, there’s absolutely no reason for me to follow-up with you.
I probably don’t remember you and even if I did end up following up with you, you probably wouldn’t remember me… and even IF you did, the interaction would be fake and meaningless because we have no rapport.
… and let’s be real.
I’m not the only person who throws away business cards.
You probably have a stack of them sitting somewhere that you’ll eventually throw out.
Maybe your stack is in the middle console of your car, your desk drawer or if you’re like my ex, he used to leave them in his suit jackets (which I’m sure the dry cleaner LOVED him for).
So, you’re out somewhere, whether that’s at a networking event, hanging out with your friends or standing in line at the grocery store and the infamous business card exchange happens… How do you keep your card out of the trash?
Before you exchange business cards
First things first, you shouldn’t even be taking people’s cards unless you actually have a meaningful conversation.Don't exchange business cards until you've had a meaningful conversation. Click To Tweet
I’m a HUGEEEEEEEEEEEE advocate of that.
In fact, I don’t even give out my business cards first (partially because I always forget to bring them)… I take them.
Think about it for a second…
99.999999% of people take cards, let them stack up and then throw them away.
After reading this, you’re not going to be like that.
You’re going to be the person who has a system for following up with new people without getting overwhelmed so that you can focus on nurturing your relationships, rather than trying to figure out what to say when you reach out.
If you KNOW that you’re going to be the one to follow-up, even if you don’t give them a card, you know that you have the power to follow-up with them.
Before you put the business card away
Since you’ve had a meaningful conversation before taking their card, you now have a reason and following up is a piece of cake.
Write on their card a word or two to remind you about what you talked about and then write down an action item that you want to do for them.
This serves a few purposes…
It ensures you’re having meaningful conversations.
You don’t need to take every person’s card. You don’t even need to meet every single person.
If you’re doing it right, you’re building incredible relationships and those people will help you meet other people you need to meet.
One time I was at a networking event with a bunch of lenders and one of the guys from a moving company walked around the room, shook everyone’s hands, introduced himself, gave them a card and walked away.
While I commend him for his willingness to put himself out there, there was absolutely no value exchanged in that relationship. I can’t even tell you how many of his cards I saw laying around and I even threw out his card when I left.
Sure, you can play the numbers game and maybeeeeee one person mighttttt call you, but what if you could walk away from every networking situation with two or three people who were looking forward to hearing from you again?
That’s the approach we’re taking here.
Let’s be clear…
Your follow-up doesn’t necessarily have to be about your business or anything work related. If you have a great conversation with someone, follow-up with them. Business comes from relationships all the time, you just have to be willing to invest in them.
If you have a hard time with small talk and having meaningful conversations with strangers, this post will DEFINITELY help you:
You start the relationship by contributing value.
By making sure that you write down BOTH what you talked about AND your action item, you’re setting the stage to contribute value.Write down what you talked about on someone's business card for easy follow-up. Click To Tweet
Most people who “network” follow-up with something like, “it was so nice to meet you. If you ever need a ___, please call me.”
Meh, that’s so forgettable.
Now if you talked to someone about how they’re getting married and need a wedding photographer and your follow-up goes something like…
Hey John! This is Alexa from the mixer at Rooftop yesterday. It was so nice to meet you! I know you mentioned you were looking for a wedding photographer so I thought I’d introduce you to ___. I’ve already texted him to let him know you’ll be reaching out and here’s his portfolio for you to look at. He’s so awesome… I can’t even say enough good things about him! Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!”
Don’t you think their jaw is going to drop?
That’s the point.
Not only did you start by contributing value, you’ve ALSO proved that you follow-through on what you say.
You have integrity.
You know they say people do business with people they know, like and trust.People do business with people they know, like and trust. Click To Tweet
By starting your relationship off from a place of contribution, you’re already getting them to know what you’re like, like you and TRUST that you do what you say you’ll do.
Let’s not forget that by making an introduction, it gives you an opportunity to connect with the other people in your network. People like people who build each other up, so bam… and thennnn you’re showing them that you’re connected.
People like to associate with movers and shakers.
This TOTALLY works to your advantage because it gives you an opportunity to follow-up again to make sure they connected and you’re setting the stage for a relationship based on making introductions.
Your action item doesn’t necessarily have to be an introduction — it can also be a recommendation for a book, place, thing, whatever.
People aren’t inherently selfish, so if you focus on strategically giving, at some point, it will come back around… and people will be excited to help you.
So basically, it makes following-up easier.
Now that you actually have a reason to follow up, reaching out after is so much easier.If you have a reason to follow-up, following up is SO much easier. Click To Tweet
A lot of people I talk to are worried about “bothering” people and that’s why they don’t want to follow-up, but if you’re helping them solve a problem, you’re both going to be excited to chat again.
Alright, so now that you have their card and you’ve put it away, what do you do next?
The initial follow-up after getting their business card
Send a Handwritten Note
I know I know, this might sound a little “extra”, but that’s the point.
How often do you get mail that’s not a bill?
Unless you shop like a crazy person online, you probably don’t.
Our goal is to make them feel important.
The more people you can make feel important and help reach their goals, the more people who will help you and the faster you’ll get to yours.The more people you can help reach their goals, the faster you'll get to yours. Click To Tweet
With a handwritten note, you’re showing them that they’re important enough for you to take the time out of your day to write the note.
The note doesn’t have to be anything fancy….
It can be something as simple as, “Hi Erica! It was so nice to meet you at the event at American Social. It was so fun chatting with you about our workout routines. I’m looking forward to connecting with you again and learning more about your goals. In the meantime, should you ever have any questions regarding real estate or otherwise, please feel comfortable enough to reach out. I’m always here to help!”
Again, the goal is to blow. their. mind.
No one else does this.
They won’t forget you.
Just a few pro tips:
- Write in blue ink instead of black. There’s something psychological about blue ink that brings happy feelings.
- My favorite notecards are from Notecard Cafe because they’re cheap, beautiful and you can customize the color of the envelope. My branding is teal, so my envelopes are teal. With that in mind, my goal is to make sure that when someone sees a teal envelope, they know it’s from me. Pick a color that represents your brand and stick with it.
- Buy stamps by the roll. If you have the envelopes and stamps on hand, you’re a million times more likely to do it. When I first started doing this, I’d write the notes and they’d sit in my car until I had to throw them away or re-write them because they’d been bent, stepped on or had fingerprints all over them. Keep the stamps on hand. You can thank me later.
- Make a habit of ALWAYS doing it the day after a networking event. If you wait two days or longer, you’re more likely to forget or start coming up with reasons not to sit down to write them.
Send a Follow-Up Email or Text
Have email, notecard and text templates ready for your follow-ups.
If you have to think, you’re wayyyyy less likely to do them.
I prefer to connect with people in person, so I usually invite people to lunch, brunch, happy hour or some other event… So you’ll want to have a follow-up template so you don have to figure out how to word it every time.
I use Calendly to integrate with my calendar so they can pick whatever time works best for them to connect.
I use Contactually CRM because the system is built to help you follow-up with your existing network in a beautiful, easy to use way and it gives you the ability to easily use templates. I also have text templates with my social media info so that I don’t have to go digging for it.
The more templates you use, the easier your follow-ups will be.
Oh, and a quick pro tip: just because you use templates doesn’t mean you can’t make your follow-ups personal. Use the template and jazz it up for each person with a little p.s. at the end.
Keeping In Touch
Business cards are meant to be like a key to unlock a relationship. It’s the beginning of a relationship, not the end.
If you don’t follow-up and keep in touch, all of your efforts into networking will have been wasted.
… and truthfully, following-up is the hardest part of networking.
Once you’ve reconnected and confirmed that you both actually like each other and want to continue building your relationship (sounds like dating, doesn’t it?), the rest is easy… or it should be, right?
Let’s put it this way… It’s simple, but not necessarily easy.
That’s why I created the free resource library which has downloads to help you audit the people in your network, learn how to communicate your goals with them, create your follow-up plans and even organize your network. It’s totally free and you can get access right here.