It’s been said that the human brain forgets about half of what it takes in within two days. So what does that mean for the networking CPA? It means that follow-up is important if you want to establish mutually-beneficial business relationships through networking.
How many times have you gone to a networking event, only to find that you have a handful of business cards from people you don’t remember the next day? It happens to almost everyone. But when we follow up, we give the person we met an opportunity to recall the introduction and solidify their connection with us.
Sadly, many people are afraid to follow up for fear of appearing desperate or pushy. However, there are ways of following up that can make you feel more comfortable, especially when you realize you’re actually doing that person a favor.
I spoke about this with Devora Zack, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking, and she offered some great feedback for CPAs. She admitted that even she might be dismissive of a bland follow-up e-mail that read, “It was really nice meeting you at that event. Let’s stay in touch.” Says Zack, “I’m thinking, yeah, sure, you probably sent this to six other people too.” But Zack says she’d react much differently to the same e-mail if it included an attached article about something of particular interest to her -- for example, an article related to one of her current business projects, or a hobby she may have mentioned in conversation. The e-mail might include a line like, “I attached this article because I saw it and it made me think of what we were talking about at the event.”
This slightly different approach via e-mail “does a couple of things,” says Zack. “One, it makes you seem really thoughtful and authentic, and two, I know this (e-mail) is really intended for me and you’re not asking for anything, but providing something. At that point, you’re making me want to stay in touch with you.”
According to Zack, the key to follow-up success is personalization. Not only does it make you seem like less of a “pest”, but you’re also showing that you were truly listening to this person when you talked (closely enough to remember one of their current interests). Additionally, you’re following up with a spirit of helpfulness and generosity, rather than making this person feel like the only reason you care about them is because of what they can do for you.
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