Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Become a Follow Up Rock Star!

Grace Hopper is almost upon us! How exciting is that? I want to spend some time on a topic that isn’t something you do at GHC, but afterward. That’s following up. It arguably the most important part of networking! Without following up, you don’t create a connection and therefore, no network!

I will admit I’m awful at following up. It’s definitely something that I hope to work on this year and greatly improve. I really began thinking about how important following up with people is when I read this post by Trent over at The Simple Dollar. This post talks about chapters 13 & 14 of Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (a book I’ve never read, but have desperately wanted to). I highly recommend popping over to The Simple Dollar to read the post. I want to touch on the points Trent makes from a Grace Hopper perspective and hopefully help you become a Follow Up Rock Star!

How should I follow up?

Being timely with your follow up is essential. One way to make sure you have time is to schedule time now. Block out time on your calendar for the Monday you get back. Use that time to send emails, find people on social networks, and answer any follow up emails you’ve received.

In your follow up communication, please include some context of who you are! I’ve received follow up emails that say things like, “It was great to meet you. How’s moving?” I feel awkward writing back asking the person to remind me where we met; it implies that I don’t remember that person. I do remember, but I need a little bit of context. Save everyone some awkward moments and make sure to mention where you met and situation or conversation you had.

Plan a second follow up. This tip is genius! I’m going to start doing it right away. The second follow up is really where the connection can be made. It’s a great idea to add a reminder to your calendar, PDA, or Blackberry!

What should I use to follow up?

We are quite lucky to live in technology oriented world. This means that there are a plethora of choices for how to follow up with someone and keep the conversation going. You can follow up with email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, a phone call, or a handwritten note, just to name a few options. I usually use email, Twitter, and handwritten notes.

Email: I love following up with email because it’s quick and it can be as formal or as casual as I want. It’s up to you whether to use a personal or work email, but either way, make sure the address is appropriate.

Twitter: I’m biased; I love Twitter. Twitter is a great way to keep the conversation alive after an email. For me Twitter is a casual way to keep in touch, so I like to start with an email (and it can be more than 140 characters). I really like the casual feeling of Twitter and I can respond to as many or as few updates as I want.

Handwritten notes: If you really want to stand out and be memorable, send a handwritten note. Email is easy, but a handwritten note is personal and it takes a little more effort. Trust me, people will remember it. I keep a stack of blank cards that I use for all sorts of correspondence. In the end, I love getting mail (that’s not junk mail or bills!) so I assume other people do too!

I hope this has inspired you to become a Follow Up Rock Star! If you have any follow up tips or tricks, let us know by leaving a comment!

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