How to Be Remarkable at Following Up

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I recently had coffee with someone who had reached out to me for advice on marketing. He had been introduced through a friend, so the initial encounter went well as we already had someone in common.

We discussed specific low-hanging fruit strategies that his company could implement in the next few weeks -- things that had worked for me. Personally, I enjoyed the conversation and learning about his company's vision so I was glad to help out.

I offered to share a few other ideas I had over email but never heard back from him.

I'm sure this has happened to many people. I've made similar mistakes myself.

Unfortunately, too many people forget the last step that's crucial to any successful networking etiquette: following up.

Following up is supplying the missing puzzle piece for any new relationship that's formed, and it can upgrade a good relationship to a great one in a matter of minutes. It's often just as important as getting the meeting itself. You already did the hard part of reaching out and creating an initial connection with some. Why not spend five more minutes to take the relationship further?

I'm not talking about crafting a simple one-line email that immediately lands in a "Mark as read" folder. Follow these simple five rules, and you'll leave an unforgettable impression every single time. 

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1. Follow up the same day.

Ideally a few hours after a meeting, do your follow-up. Just like how you might pursue a hot new lead for your business, follow up as soon as you can while the initial meeting is still fresh.

Most people wait a day or even a week to follow up, but by then the other person's attention has shifted to something else.

If you're like most busy people, millions of other things intrude on a given day. Get in the habit of following up immediately after the meeting or schedule a reminder on your calendar to follow up later on that day. 

2. Recall a highlight.

Mention a highlight from the conversation: something funny, insightful or a story shared by the person  you met with. Make it about something the other person shared because there's a good chance this individual won't remember what you said.

It will be especially powerful if you managed to create an emotional connection with this person during your meeting.

Calling attention to a shared moment will evoke a memory and an emotional connection, prompting the other person to feel compelled to read through your email and respond.

During the meeting, be sure you to collect a takeaway point, a shared moment (just one) with the other person that you can invoke in your follow-up communication.

Related: May the (Work) Force Be With You: How to Be a LinkedIn Jedi (Infographic)  

3. Create immediate value.

Immediately creating value for the person in your follow-up will be the single biggest factor that will differentiate you from anyone else that individual has met.

An approach I have taken that's worked is to set up an introduction with another person who could be of benefit to this individual. This is how you become a powerful connector.

In situations like this, it's the thought that counts. Whether the person ends up benefiting from the introduction or not, you've set the stage for a valuable relationship that will continue to develop over the long term. I cannot stress how powerful this strategy has been for me. Here's a sample email:

how to follow up

4. Connect through social media and reach out.

Give your new contact the opportunity to get to know you better personally and professionally by sending an invitation to connect on a social media channel.

This will allow the person to navigate through your profile describing your background and strengths and form a clearer idea of how he or she could help you -- through mentorship or connecting you to someone in his or her network. Here's a sample tweet.

twitter follow up

Reach out to this person through different media (like Twitter or LinkedIn) other than email after following up. Connect on additional channels such as Facebook and Instagram if it seems right, based on your personality and the type of content you share.

The people most likely to go above and beyond to help you succeed are not the acquaintances you already have on LinkedIn. Rather fresh insights can result from new friendships that you form.

Networking in a smart manner is about fostering genuine friendships with people who share common goals and interests with you. It's not about merely exchanging business cards. 

5. Schedule the next meeting. 

Getting that first meeting was tough. You now have a foot in the door and have developed rapport. Strengthening that relationship should become your next focus and the best way to do this is to set up consistent meetings for catching up. This is how you can transition your connection from a business relationship to a friendship, and where real mutual benefits can happen.

Remember, building momentum is key to fostering trust and reliability in any relationship. 

Share your tips on following up in the comments below.

Related: 5 Tips for Authentic Networking in a Co-Working Space