Computerised social networking is excellent and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others are great ways of contacting people. However, there’s a flaw; it’s gone so mainstream that everyone is connected. Soon there will be as much noise in the average social media stream as there is in the most overloaded email basket. Here are some strategies to make your follow-ups stand out:
- The followup email:
You go to a networking event, you meet a useful person, you connect with everyone else. Big wow, so does everybody else; they may even send a friendly email (although the amount who don’t bother is amazing). Geoff Kirkwood, who runs the “Australia’s Business Mentor” scheme, suggests using a smartphone and the QuickVoice app to email a voice message instead. They won’t get many of those. He follows this up with a card – almost nobody gets actual cards these days. Finally he calls – by which time most of the people who sent a pleasant but half-hearted email will have faded away.
- Personalise LinkedIn:
How many times do you appear to ‘connect’ with someone at a networking event and then get a bland “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” message back? Consider that your new connection’s in-box will be flooded with these messages and they may not remember who was which. Personalise the invitation, remind them why you’re useful to them and why you want to connect. Networking expert Will Kintish comments that “many people get on really well during a networking event and then send a LinkedIn message that almost says “I can’t be bothered to write anything to you” How is that going to look?”(Note: many mobile LinkedIn and other social media apps don’t let you add a personal message. Don’t use them to make contact. Make a note in your calendar to connect the following day when you can make it personal – the mobile apps are great for maintaining contact afterwards).
- Get your social media picture up to date
A picture of your face is much more memorable than your logo, your building or whatever else loads of people put on their profiles. Make yours stand out with a professional-looking picture. And make sure all of your social media profiles are up to date and say something meaningful.
- Give something away
If you’re introducing yourself to someone through social media, whether through a third party or through a LinkedIn InMail, try to offer them some reason to get back to you. Perhaps there’s a white paper you’ve published, or an e-seminar to which you can give them free access? Offer people something of value and the chances are that they will respond.
- Follow up
The aforementioned networking expert Will Kintish is always staggered that people don’t follow up. They meet someone important to them and they feel insecure, they worry that they’re being a nuisance, they don’t pick the phone up. Here’s the deal. If someone has attended a networking meeting, they are there to meet people too. Implicitly, they have given you permission to get in touch – and the only way you can ensure that nothing productive comes from your new contact is not to get in touch.Or to do so and make it very bland, send an email and don’t follow through, get in touch on LinkedIn without personalizing the message, leave your profile blank, all those things. But you’re not going to do that now – I hope!