Follow-up Fearlessly: How to Master the Art of the Follow-up in Networking

mastering the follow-up

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.

follow up networking is best served when you use a tool to manage follow-up email 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 try out Contactually for free, and get 10 of my best email templates (which I drafted myself and are highly effective), 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 get a commission if you convert to a paid account after your free trial is over.)

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:

 

Following-up Following up is as simple as sending a few email messages. Following up is as simple as sending a few email messages to the people you met.

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:

how to network, networking strategies, customer relationship manager, customer relationship management definition, customer relationship management system

The system prompts you to OK merged 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:

Follow-ups can be managed using Contactually, which has the bucket game to categorize contacts. 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:

how to network, networking strategies, customer relationship manager, customer relationship management definition, customer relationship management system

Google Chrome add-on allows you to add contacts into your “buckets” easily and quickly

 

how to network, networking strategies, customer relationship manager, customer relationship management definition, customer relationship management systemIn 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:

how to network, networking strategies, customer relationship manager, customer relationship management definition, customer relationship management system

Jaime Tardy’s Rapportive profile

Here’s what my Rapportive profile looks like:

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My Rapportive profile

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.

how to network, networking strategies, customer relationship manager, customer relationship management definition, customer relationship management system

You can select a later date or time to send your email

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 free (no credit card required to do the free trial) and get full access to 10 of my best email templates.

 

Comments

  1. Jason Barr says:

    Hmm… I’ve been using Insightly as a CRM because of how it integrates with Google Apps, but this might be a nice addon to my system.

    • Hey Jason – how do you like Insightly? It looks like they have a nice free plan for under 2,500 contacts. I may be over that – not sure. It sounds like Insightly is pretty similar to Contactually.

      • Jason Barr says:

        It seems pretty useful. The biggest attractions were free and Google Apps integration, but it’s pretty easy to use. I haven’t really got my workflow down with regards to networking and prospecting, so I’m not sure I’m getting max value out of it. Revisiting my prospecting plan is on the agenda for early next week, so hopefully I’ll have a better sense of how well it works in the near future.

        • I’ve found creating a simple follow up plan is really the most important part, to ensure new contacts don’t slip through the cracks. One of the biggest mistakes I see people making over and over again with their networking is when they meet people, they don’t follow up. Then they just have to network more because of the lack of follow-through. On the other hand, I wouldn’t worry too much about having a 100% perfect follow up system – an imperfect system is better than no system.

          • Jason Barr says:

            I hear you there – I used to spin in circles for weeks or months before I did anything because I wanted to have the perfect plan, but then I realized that I was just hurting myself and I needed to find ways to break the loop, to trust myself enough to get started without having all the details worked out first.

            Plus a complicated system makes it easy to miss dumb little things that I miss because I’m distracted by the brilliance of my plan that’s so complex and difficult that with everything else going on in my life I don’t have the mental energy or time to maintain it for more than a few days… then end up with a whole bunch of bad feelings and inaction because I’ve exhausted and discouraged myself. Then I recover, wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s a vicious cycle.

            Of course, having realized this only fairly recently, I’m not quite out of the loop yet – but it’s coming along.

          • Darcé Stelly says:

            Thank you for sharing that. I’m looking for ways to be more organized, more time efficient, and effective and this is really helpful.

  2. After 9 months I thought I’d come back and let you know I’m going to use your link to sign up for the Contactually trial.

    Insightly works very well for project management, its method of linking contacts to different organizations, opportunities, and projects is innovative and easy to use, but I just have never got the hang of using it to handle follow-up with contacts. I think I have a good idea in my mind of how to make the two play nice in my workflow while making me more effective – we’ll see!

    • Interesting feedback, Jason. I’ve actually never really given Insightly a try because I knew I liked Contactually, but I should probably play with it so I have a point of comparison.

  3. Viktor Jiracek says:

    Very helpful! Thanks! 🙂

  4. Thanks for this article John. You have really piqued my interest in Contactually. I’ve heard folks mention it before, but you really laid out how it would benefit me and I’m interested in trying it out! Also going to look at Insightly like @JasonBarr:disqus mentioned and see how that looks (the free is appealing there, since I’m just starting my business), but super excited to take a look! Great content! Thanks.

    • cool – thanks, Mark! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

      • Here’s a question for you… I’m not in a position to purchase Contactually yet…would you recommend using another service like Insightly for now and then switching to Contactually in a few months? Or just holding off altogether until I can budget for Contactually?

        • Hey Mark – I would say something is better than nothing. I just signed up for Insightly to try it out and publish a comparison post at some point in the future.

          However, I will say this about Contactually – if you use it, then it will yield returns 10X over. It’s like saying I don’t want to pay the $50K salary of a sales guy who will bring in $500K to my business in the next year. Sure, it’s an investment, but it’s a wise investment.

          • That’s a great point John. It’s certainly something I need to use. Contactually seems like it has enough customization to be useful…that’s been my challenge, I can’t ever get something to work just how I want it to work.

            Thanks for the help!

  5. Hey John, listened to your great interview with my good friend Meron! Have signed up for the trial with Contactually and will give it a good run out. Many thanks for some real inspiration!

  6. Thanks for this article John- It’s incredible. I was looking into Contactually right after our chat the other day and this definitely answered all my questions. Cheers!

  7. Hey John, that was super useful and inspired me to activate my Contactually trial. For a while it felt like I was drowning in people to follow up with but your system means no-one falls through the cracks. Thanks.

  8. I was looking into using insightly, but this seems a lot more interesting and effective. I still need to follow up with individuals I met at New Media Expo this past month. Thank you for sharing this tool and writing this article!

    • Excellent Danielle. Yeah, I’ve tried Insightly a little bit but I found the stripped down experience of the budget plans to be lacking. I consider Contactually to be the next generation CRM – kind of like the Mac version, compared to old CRMs which are like old dusty PCs.

  9. Darcé Stelly says:

    This is interesting material, but if I’m not mistaken, aren’t you into the handwritten letters? I know it’s archaic to some, but I’ve seen the potential for great follow-up results. When do you suggest to hand write versus email follow-ups? I would like to give that personal touch every time while taking care of things in a timely manner.

    • Hey Darce – my attitude on handwritten letters is if you are able to do them quickly, then do it. But most people these days find handwritten letters are too much work, and I’m not into lecturing people on something they aren’t going to do anyways. So I say do whatever you can do quickly and move on. If you can send an email quickly, do it. If all you can muster energy for is a quick text, then do that. But do something. Better than nothing.

  10. Hi there, signed up for the trial but how do we receive the 10 email templates? Nothing received yet? Thanks for a great resource and Contactually looks great! Will definitely sign up, thanks, Belinda