The Follow up We Forget The Most
Everyone tells you that in the world of business the motto is “Follow up or fail” and most of the time we believe that refers to follow up on a sales conversation or a request for something. There is another form of following up that is essential in building relationships that slips through the cracks more often than usual, but when we remember to do it, it can be incredibly powerful:
Follow up on introductions made.
In my career I’ve made thousands of introductions, but out of those thousands a very small percentage of people give me feedback on how it went. The interesting thing is that when they do provide that feedback, they become top of mind for me and I often end up making more introductions for them or coming up with new ideas to help them. One of the main reasons that this form of follow up is overlooked is that we often forget how we connected with someone. I have been in many meetings in which the person I’m meeting starts the conversation with “who introduced us again?” I also have gotten emails where someone introduces me to someone I introduced them to a few months before. It’s pretty common to have made an introduction and not hear anything afterwards which is why it ends up being so powerful when someone closes the loop. So what’s the best way to make sure that these follow ups happen?
Track as you go.
Any time I get an introduction from someone as soon as I set up the meeting, I document who made the intro in my notepad before the meeting. So at the top of my notes it says the person’s name and who introduced us. This info then goes into a spreadsheet of all of the people I have met with a column for the people who made the introduction. I can then filter the column and see who has made numerous introductions for me and also see patterns. I can then follow up with different people and give them updates on the conversations I have had and continue to keep them abreast of the relationships as they develop. This takes me an extra few minutes here and there, but gives me a very clear picture of what is happening with my network at any point in time. For those of you who prefer to have most of this automated, services like Contactually and IntroNet can set up automatic follow-ups for you on introductions and help you track the connections you make. It usually just comes down to what you’re comfortable with using, so I’d say take some time to check them out and use whatever is best for you. The important thing is that you do take the time to track the intros you are making and that are being made for you so you can follow up with the people who made them. I promise you will be seen differently by those who refer you because so few people actually ever do this.
It’s often been pointed out that psychologically when we see the effects of our efforts, we tend to increase those efforts. This is why when someone is fundraising if they can see the results of what those funds do they push that much harder to raise the funds. For more info on this phenomenon, check out Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. The same holds true with connectors. If we make an introduction and hear that there was a favorable outcome, we are more motivated to make even more introductions. Us this powerful form of follow up and you’ll see the number of introductions you receive increase and you’ll get even clearer on what is a home run for those you introduce.
So follow up on the introductions you make and that are made for you.
You’ll be top of mind for more people and you’ll have a clearer picture of your network and that’s better for everyone.