It doesn’t matter what your business is, the structure and operation is up to you to organize, implement, monitor, and fix, if it needs fixing. In short, you are the person in charge, and everything is your responsibility. Does this mean that you are alone? No, it doesn’t. You have employees, family, and friends. All these people are included in the networking partners that you have developed over time. Make sure that you utilize their knowledge.
You are the person who is responsible for all the follow up that will mean success to your business. It may be follow up on a referral from one of your networking partners, on an inquiry from a prospect, with the person whom you met at a networking event, or on an inspiration that you got from “out of the blue”. Following up is one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner. You must be responsible to either follow up yourself or make sure that someone in your organization does so, and in a complete and professional manner.
Did you receive a referral from one of your networking partners? Did someone call with an inquiry about your services or products? You must follow up and get in touch with the person that you should call. The referral needs to be contacted as soon as possible to determine if they are a person that needs your product or service. The person inquiring must be contacted to determine what their need is and if you can fill it. You will never know until you contact them. Make repeated attempts, maybe asking the referring person for assistance.
Maybe the inquiry is not about a possible sale, but it might be someone who can become a networking partner. Perhaps it is someone whom you met at a networking event, calling to follow up and gain more information about you. Even if it is someone who wants to market to you, it is an opportunity to market to them also. You never know until you make the call to follow up and to respond to their inquiry. Meet them and find out all the details.
We have said before that you need to follow up with everyone whom you meet at networking events, calling them to meet and get to know each other better. If you don’t like making cold calls, these calls are not cold calls. You both should remember each other, having met even for a short period of time. But, you must call, make arrangements to meet face to face, and get to know each other. If the other person calls you first, answer the call, and follow up with a meeting. Networking relationships should reward you with referrals, clients, or both. All three help a business succeed, often beyond your original expectations.
Let’s not forget voice mails. When anyone calls you and gets your voice mail, listen to their message, and return the call. This is another form of follow up. We all interface with others through voice mails each and every day. We also do not care for people who ignore our voice mails and never return our calls. Therefore, don’t be guilty of that negative practice yourself. In other words, return all calls to you. You never know what the outcome will be. Explore the future and follow up with a stranger. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.