Follow Up, Consistent Communication Both Critical to Building Relationships
It’s amazing to me how many people never follow up with me after I meet them at an event. Nine out of 10 people are never heard from again. To increase these odds, I don’t wait for people and I follow up instead. Proactive follow up is critical to building meaningful relationships.

Also, follow through after promising something is another important aspect that many people miss. In order to be a successful networker, you need to stand above the pack. Don’t let inaction hurt your reputation. For some people, a systematic approach is necessary.

Organize Contact Information

After you meet someone for the first time, it’s important to capture tidbits from the conversation along with the person’s contact information. Once you finish your discussion, write notes on the back of the person’s business card. By doing so, you will remember some of your dialogue.

Make sure to capture both business and personal information. Also, if you mention that you will do something for this person (such as make an introduction or share a Web site), then write this information down as well. This will help you remember and follow through.

The next time you return to your office or home, you need to organize all of the new contact information along with the notes. Input everything into a contact management system such as from Microsoft Outlook, Google or Palm. Organize this information so you can search for certain people fairly easy.

You can categorize contacts by industry or competency. After you organize your contact information, you will be better equipped to follow up with people because you will have your information neatly organized. Also, keep track of conversations and meetings so you can see the history of your relationship.

Immediately Reach Out to People

Within 48 hours of meeting someone, you should make a move and contact the person. As most people never follow up, take it upon yourself to make the first move. Whether you follow up via e-mail, phone or mail, it’s necessary to do so fairly quickly. If you wait too long, people may not remember you. A critical element of networking is you want people to remember you.

Make sure you’re not lost in the sea of business cards. Whatever method of communication you use, make sure you reference what was discussed when you met. By doing so, this will show people that you were paying attention and you take the relationship seriously.

At the same time, schedule a follow-up meeting so you can continue your conversation.

Early on, relationships are best built with face-to-face interaction. Technology tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook or e-mail are good for maintaining and building relationships. However, they are not as effective in the beginning stages of professional relationship building.

Stay Top of Mind With Consistency

In order to continue building new and existing relationships, you need to consistently get yourself in front of your network. Technology is a wonderful tool to maintain these relationships.

Create a newsletter, blog or e-mail list and send out regular and valuable information to people. By doing this on a consistent basis, people will remember you. Also, find touchpoints to reach out to individuals such as birthdays, events or important industry information.

When you reach out to people, they will appreciate that you were thinking about them. As mentioned above, face-to-face communication is important and you should make it a habit of inviting people to lunch or coffee each week. This is a great technique to maintain existing and new relationships.

Become a Resource

The more you communicate with others, the more you will become a resource. As you start to develop relationships, you will be sharing information and resources based on your expertise. As you discover your subject-matter expertise, you will begin to brand yourself as the go-to person for this topic.

After a while, people will come to recognize you as this expert and will approach you. As people approach you, be open to helping them.

Try to not turn people away. If you can’t help, then find someone who can. The more you help others, the more you will become highly regarded an expert and resource for others. Once you reach this status, you have taken your relationship building to the next level.

People will remember you, which can open up doors for your future personal and business success. With the right amount of time, effort and passion, you can achieve this type of success with networking.

Final Thought

Take the time to build relationships by following up and following through with people you meet. Otherwise, you will be like 90 percent of the people out there who aren’t proactive and have lost out on building many new relationships. You will be amazed at how many new relationships you will develop if you take the time to make it happen.