Fortune is in the Follow-Up...Especially When you Add an Emotional Component!
Ok, be honest with me, do you hate the follow-up component after a big conference, cocktail party or networking event? If you’re being honest, you probably said, “Yes” or “Ugh yeah, having to follow up is the worst!”
You’re not alone.
Following through with commitments, even outside of networking, is not a new concept. In fact according to James Clears article, “Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. Even prolific artists like Victor Hugo are not immune to the distractions of daily life. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia.”
Akrasia is when we put off the things we know we need to do because we’re essentially afraid that we won’t have or FEEL immediate gratification. There’s a behavioral economics term called “time inconsistency”, which suggests that the human brain values immediate rewards more than future rewards. If you think about this concept and networking it makes a lot of sense.
Strategic networking needs to be compared to a marathon not a sprint and thus the rewards we’re seeking are not likely going to happen after one networking event, one meeting or one follow-up action.
My clients tell me over and over again that one of the hardest part of networking is the following-up component and yet, we’ve all heard that, “Fortune is in the follow up”.
That begs the question, what can we do to ensure that when we do follow up we’re making the most of our time and the biggest impact on those on the receiving end? My answer: add an emotional component to your follow up game.
To be totally fair, I came to this idea after hearing Barbara Jaynes, CEO and Founder of Positively Funded, speak to a group of non-profit organizations a few weeks ago. Barbara’s goal was to teach customized follow up techniques that would fully engage non-profit staff, volunteers and of course donors.Barbara’s ideas sparked me to think about how any type of organization, for profit or non-profit can incorporate emotion in their follow-up strategy.
Whether we’re building a network for professional or personal reasons, we’re looking for more than just a one time coffee meeting or a one time donation or an introduction that ends after one email. If we want to be strategic connectors that means we’re looking for long-term, meaningful relationships that are based off of similar values and goals.
In order to create these types of relationships we have to be willing to be vulnerable aka talk about our beliefs, what we care about and yes, share our feelings. Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston has devoted her research to the power of vulnerability and has come to realize that when we’re able to be vulnerable it’s the strongest tool to build connections.
Engaging with your audiences by taking the power of the moment (or moments right after you connect) and not letting it slip through is critical to effectively following up.
Here are 4 ways to maximize the OPPORTUNITIES that emotion driven follow-up can have on building long-term relationships.
#1. Incorporate an emotional component into your social media platforms, specifically the power of video and ‘live’ functions.
* When people get to hear you and see you through a pre-recorded video or if you go facebook or linkedin ‘live’, you’ll increase the opportunity for real human connection, impact and understanding. Of course, there’s nothing more powerful than face-to-face connections, but with the use of video technology we are one step closer than just sending an email or posting words on our social media platforms. Better yet, make sure to share the impact a specific person or event had on you and share how it made you feel!
* If you want to take it a step further take a video during an event or go live during an event you’re at and use it to promote the host, their mission and brand and let your audience know how they would benefit from attending events like this one...and of course how being there is making you feel. (Ideally, happy, confident, joyful etc!)
#2. Share WHY meeting the person or the event impacted you beyond checking off ‘networking event’ from your professional to-do list.
* According to Simon Sinek’s research when we’re able to share a WHY statement we connect to the part of the human brain that’s responsible for our emotions and feelings, which ultimately lay the foundation for trust and loyalty...two key components for strategic networking.
* Here are some ways to start an emotional statement when following up -
* You inspired me because…
* I left our time together feeling…..
* Our time together motivated me to….
#3. Take 5-min to write a handwritten thank you card and include something with a specific scent.
* The #1 thing that evokes memory is scent so include something small that will evoke a powerful and positive emotion and scent from your time together. For example if you met a coffee aficionado include a small bag of coffee or a few tea bags for those that prefer tea. I’ve even started using scratch’n’sniff stamps, yes they really do exist and they are as awesome as they sound. On the back of the envelope I write, “Make sure to check out the stamp... it’s a scratch’n’sniff stamp, I hope you and your kids enjoy!” Every. Single. Person. I’ve sent one of those stamps to has reached out and thanked me and told me how awesome it was to smell the stamp :) Adults and children alike love fun things like this and they love feeling special. If nothing else sending a handwritten thank you note and adding a small gift with make you memorable.
#4. Offer various ways to stay in touch by adding value to someone’s life/work beyond an email or connecting on social media.
* Offer a way to mentor that person or someone in their organization that utilizes your skill set so that you’re showcasing your value proposition and the people or person’s you’ve connected with are receiving something that goes way beyond a thank you card or box of cookies.
* Commit to keeping people up to date with your search, your journey, your sales etc with phone calls. Yes, picking up the phone and letting someone hear your voice is way more powerful than reading an update via email. Our energy carries through our voice and our tone and is a way to build an emotional connection. Trust me, people want to be updated on how things unfold for you, especially if they introduced you to someone that you ended up meeting with or talking to. Even if you don’t think your updates are ‘interesting’ or noteworthy enough, others do, especially if they took time out of their day to meet with you and make introductions on your behalf.
* Lastly, highlight specific people, organizations or companies etc in your blog, newsletter, social media feeds etc and don’t forget to add WHY they made you feel a certain way. Showcasing someone else in today’s world goes a long way and will not only make you feel good for thinking of others but will make them feel proud and honored to be showcased to your network!
I hope you’ll follow up with me by adding your comments to my LinkedIn page, after you read this blog and let me know your best tips and tricks for following up. I’d love to learn from you!
As always stay connected,