Following up after you meet someone is important for preserving and developing a relationship. It paves the way to subsequent meetings and the chance of synergies and new opportunities.
In the words of the award-winning author and corporate trainer, Paul Axwell, “Persistence is a key influence skill. If you want anything to happen you must follow up, follow up and follow up”.
So what is the best way to follow up with new contacts?
Step 1: Follow up with the people who matter
According to a recent infographic, we are expected to meet 80,000 people in our lifetime. Although our brain has the biological capacity of storing 2.5 petabytes of data, we won’t remember everyone, and we are not supposed to.
You will only remember a handful of people who made an impression and that you probably decided to stay in touch with. So choose carefully. Stay in touch with people who have a mindset, skills, or network that can help you develop.
Step 2: Make a memorable exit through mnemonic devices
According to Dr. Charan Ranganath, Director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis, our brain has to put in a lot of work to remember someone. It has to match the name with a face, then store that name in an already crowded memory where myriads of other names exist, and recall it when necessary.
For this reason, you need to create mnemonic devices. Don’t just hand over a business card and leave. Share a story, a thought, or even a hobby that you will be remembered for.
In this manner, when you pick up the phone or send an email to follow up, your contact will automatically recall who you are, by the mnemonic device you provided them with.
Step 3: Set a reminder and prepare
As a Chinese proverb says “The palest ink is better than the best memory”. Don’t just say you will follow up, put it in your agenda. Ink it.
Schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of your introduction, or set a reminder with a note – For example: “Call Jane in 2 days to discuss the marketing executive position opportunity”.
Before you follow up, be prepared. Recap any notes you may have made on that person, on their interests, line of work, family status, and any news that may be relevant to them.
“Note: George has a Labradoodle that just gave birth. Make sure to ask how the puppies are.”
Anything that can help you start a conversation and warm up the follow-up call or email, is to your advantage.
Covve suggests: When adding a new relationship make sure you add a note with some key elements of their story to help you remember the person. Set your upcoming reminders and add a note that is relevant to both you and them, i.e. what you connected on, common interests, and ideally what you can help them with. After you speak, set a reminder for a follow-up with the key points discussed and any actions until then (e.g. Introduce her to Don Norman).