Something magical happens when you begin to attend networking events.  People begin to give you leads and referrals.  Many have been fortunate to have met someone who wanted to do business right away.  Others have met someone at a networking event that should be a part of their networking circle.  And still others have met that rare individual who just hears what they do and knows someone who needs their product or service.  It happens.  And when it does it is a beautiful thing.

Other times you have worked hard for the opportunity.  You have attended events, met people and delivered a great elevator pitch (Magical Networking Moment).  Through planning your networking and working your plan you have received leads and referrals.

Now comes the moment of truth.  What happens when you meet someone or when someone gives you a lead or referral?  What will you do with what you have been given? Most leads, referrals, and opportunities die.  Most people never follow up or follow through.  It’s sad but true.  Nothing will shut referrals down faster than lack of action on your part.  The referral you have received will die.  Worse still, because you will be known as someone who doesn’t follow up, you won’t receive more referrals either.

The good news is you can stand out in most any crowd by being the exception.  Simply by following up puts you in an elite class.  Following up shows respect for the referral.  It shows respect for the person who gave you the referral and it shows respect for you, your company, and everyone’s time.  And following up is easy.  You have tools at your disposal that make managing contacts a snap.  You must use them.

While it is the least effective, a simple email can get the follow up process going.  Be aware that email isn’t what it used to be.  Most people get at least fifty emails a day, so your email may not receive priority.  Using email alone is better than most, but not enough to reach the most valuable prospects.  Email does have it’s place in the follow up process.  It provides an easy way to connect and it provides a simple management tool for contact information.  Use email to make quick, consistent contact with people.

Incorporate snail mail options too.  Since we get more email today, many forget that regular mail is a powerful tool.  The use of letters, lumpy mail (mail with something inside that makes the envelope beg to be opened), and hand written cards and notes is powerful.  For those who simply cannot seem to get this done, programs like Send Out Cards can do this for you.  Regular mail is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

One other tool often overlooked is the telephone.  Make use of the phone wisely.  When you call, treat the gatekeeper (if there is one) like you would want to be treated.  Engage them by using their name and by telling them who you are and why you are calling.  It is best to ask for an introductory call when you have been referred. This coupled with courtesy for the gatekeeper will usually ensure your call gets through.  And when leaving messages make them short and to the point.  Your name, your phone number, who suggested you call, your name and phone number again should suffice.  Don’t try to sell them on calling you back or your product or service in a message.  The referral should result in a return call.

Having a plan and process that you put every referral through will ensure that you are known as someone who follows up.  Using email, regular mail, the telephone, and courtesy for the gatekeeper will show everyone that you are a professional and worthy of referrals.  Being worthy means more referrals and more business.  So make it happen, follow up.