On my way home from a conference recently, I sat next to a blonde woman in her mid-40’s wearing matching Prada shoes and bag. From the looks of her, a successful businesswoman.
I couldn’t help peeking over her shoulder and saw that she was composing email messages in Outlook. I assumed she had just attended a meeting and was diligently doing her follow up. The problem was that every single message she wrote was the same -- and really boring, in my opinion.
“Dear Blank, it was a pleasure to meet you at the meeting this weekend and I hope we can meet again soon.”
That was it. No reference to who she is or what they talked about or what ideas she has had since they met or what they could do together in the future.
Anyone who knows me (or has heard my networking presentations) knows that I am a follow up freak. But I’d say it’s better not to follow up than to write the type of generic follow up messages this woman was about to send out.
Here’s the problem so many freelancers face: you have no idea what to say when you follow up, and that often stops you from doing it. So here are a few ideas about what you can say to build on the momentum of meeting someone in person, face to face, to reinforce the impact of your personal presence.
1. Set the foundation for follow up while you’re talking. Follow up starts when the conversation starts. As you’re talking, be looking for something to say in your follow up. As soon as it hits you, make a note of it on the back of their card. You can find something in common -- a topic of interest, whether personal or professional – or listen for what they may need help with. Then, in your follow up, you offer an idea, a contact or some other resource.
2. Follow up right away to build on the momentum of the conversation, of your freshness in their mind. If too much time passes before you follow up, the conversation may slip into the recesses of their mind or blur with that of someone else they met recently. If you wait, it won’t have as strong of an impact. Do it the next day if possible, or at the very least, sometime before the week is out.
3. Use persuasive copywriting in your follow up. Strive to incorporate persuasion in ALL of your communications. That includes your follow up because follow up is about promoting your services to anyone and everyone you come into contact with.
The most effective follow up highlights the benefits of working with you. For example, here’s a follow up message I sent to a writer I met at a meeting:
Hi Tom, great to meet you at the meeting last week.
I am confident I can help you create a plan to get your new business off the ground. The Marketing Mentor program would be an effective way to do that because it provides the three things you need most at this point in your business:
- A plan – together we will create a marketing plan that is tailored to your needs and your most lucrative target market.
- Accountability – I will keep you on track with our weekly phone calls so your marketing doesn’t get put on the back burner, eliminating the Feast or Famine Syndrome forever.
- Objective feedback – my 18 years of experience helping people just like you promote their services means you won’t waste time and money making beginner’s mistakes.
I’ll call you next week to continue the conversation but in the meantime, you’ll receive my free email newsletter, Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor. Here’s what another writer said about it: "Your online newsletter is absolutely terrific. You combine extremely valuable content with style and personality. Fabulous job!"
Follow this simple formula -- state what you can do with confidence, list 3 or more things they’ll get and the benefits of each, then close with a testimonial and a way to keep in touch -- and your networking efforts will be the foundation for a healthy business that brings you more work and more clients than you ever imagined.