This may come as a shock, but most people don’t know how to network for business or career purposes.
I know, shocking, right?
Who doesn’t want to go to a cocktail hour, eat crappy appetizers, sip watered-down Chardonnay and make small talk with people we just met?
But check this out: a recent study reported that 27% of time spent online is spent on social networking sites.
So on the one hand, people hate networking. On the other hand, people spend a quarter of their time online on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., connecting with other people.
Seems like a disconnect to me.
If we hate networking so much, why would we do more of it voluntarily when we’re surfing the web?
I think the truth is we all want to connect with people we genuinely connect with (like friends and college buddies and old colleagues), but when you call it “networking” and it seems like a chore, then it’s not so much fun.
I think there’s a better way to go about it.
The trick is to make every connection count. Master follow-up networking by following up with people you meet and connect with, and deepen your relationship.
Every time you go to a networking event and don’t follow-up, it’s a wasted opportunity. Why did you even go? It means you’ll just have to haul yourself back out onto the cocktail party circuit again. What a waste of time and effort.
The hard part though is how to manage all of those follow-up messages.
That’s where a new service called Contactually comes in. It’s an online tool for managing relationships and follow-up messages.
I have been trying out Contactually for the past few weeks. It’s a very powerful solution to a problem I’ve experienced for years.
I recently recorded a short video where I show how Contactually works, and how it’s been saving me time and actually making me money.
You can check out the short video on followups here:
If you want to get an extra 30 days of premium features (over and above the 2 months they already give you), you can use my link to sign up for a free trial of Contactually. (Full disclaimer: if you sign up using my link to Contactually anywhere in this post, I will also get an extra free month of premium features as well. Pretty cool, huh?)
By the way, Contactually is not alone in the market. There are other similar systems, like Yesware and Salesforce and other products which I haven’t tried. If you have tried any of these follow-up tools, let me know in the comments.
How to Use Contactually
In the video, I run through how I use Contactually. But here are a few screenshots from inside the system.
This is screenshot of the main dashboard you see when you log in:
The first thing you want to do is to connect your email accounts and social media accounts.
Once you have connected your LinkedIn, Gmail, Google Apps for Business email, Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts, then Contactually merges all of your contacts and creates unified profiles for them. The great thing about this is you don’t have to spend hours and hours entering contacts into the system – they come over magically.
That was a huge feature for me. I didn’t want to spend hours and hours entering contacts if I didn’t even know whether I’d like the system.
Also, I connect with a lot of people different ways. Some people I email from my Gmail account, others I communicate with just on Facebook, still others I am connected with across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Friendster (remember Friendster?), etc.
Here’s what it looks like when you merge the contacts who you have connected with multiple ways:
The next thing you want to do is to add people into different “buckets” based on how frequently you want to be reminded to “follow-up” with them.
In other words, if you want to follow-up with someone every 30 days or 60 days or 6 months or 12 months, you can enter them into different buckets.
If the person is someone you want to get to know better, then you want to remind yourself to followup more frequently.
However, just as importantly, you don’t want to drop off of certain people’s radar screens. You want to be sure it hasn’t been 12 months or longer since someone received a follow-up from you.
Otherwise, people just forget about you. Contactually helps to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Contactually actually has something called the “Bucket Game” which looks and feels like a video game. They are trying to make it fun to categorize all of your contacts into different buckets, which could otherwise be a big chore. Here’s what that looks like:
Here’s another really cool feature: Contactually also has a Google Chrome add-on which allows you to enter a person directly into one of your buckets right from your gmail account. Here’s what that looks like:
In the screenshot above, you can also see two other free features I have installed which, in combination with Contactually, really help me with networking. On the right side of the screenshot with the picture of Bryan Kramer above, you can see a mini-profile for the person I’m emailing – in this case, Bryan.
That’s a plugin called Rapportive, and once you integrate it into your Gmail account, it shows you a small profile on the right side of your email account which brings in information from the social networks of the person you are currently emailing.
I love it because you can get to know the person a little bit better. You can also connect with that person on LinkedIn with one click.
Here’s another example of what my friend Jaime’s Rapportive profile looks like:
Here’s what my Rapportive profile looks like:
I’m not sure why my position as a Writer at the White House shows up first – I had that job 13 years ago. (I should probably fix it.)
Another feature I have installed is called “Boomerang” which allows you to send follow-up messages at a later time or date, and to re-send the follow-up message if the person doesn’t respond to your first email.
So, let’s say you get home from a networking event at 11pm and decide to sit down and fire off follow-up emails to everyone you met. You may not want to send all those follow-up emails shortly before midnight so they don’t think you’re a freaky night owl or too eager, like a guy who calls a girl he met at a bar before 2 or 3 days have gone by. That wouldn’t be good.
Instead, you can schedule the follow-up emails to go out in the morning.
All of those tools working together pack a pretty powerful punch.
If you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Here’s that link again if you want to try out Contactually for three months for free and to give me an extra month free as a thank you for putting together this tutorial!