December 31, 2012 is just 10 short weeks away from today. Wow… how did that happen? Like many of my friends and clients, I am starting the annual ritual of reflecting on what took place over the last 10 months. With the end of the year facing me, I always want to complete the year on a strong note, checking off some of those proverbial “boxes” along the way. So where to begin? Here are a few suggestions for making the most of these last ten Mondays:
- Review your marketing plan. Establish what you have accomplished and what is left on your plan. Trust me on this one, but no one has accomplished their entire marketing plan! There is always more to be done, but take a moment to be pleased with your progress.
- Prioritize your goals for the last ten weeks. You can’t take on too much in this timeframe. Select one or two priorities and create an actionable plan for working towards those goals.
- Book ten, thirty minute time slots in your calendar, one each week. Spend those precious minutes on forwarding your marketing and business development plans. Do not reschedule these ‘meetings’ with yourself. Make them a priority!
- Review your contacts list; make sure it is up to date and get it ready to use.
- Reach out to one or two of your contacts each week. Email or call specific individuals to see how they are doing, ask about their year and offer helpful information.
- Decide on how you will reach out to your contacts this holiday season. Do you have an annual holiday message? Start writing it now. Make a date on your calendar for sending out your communication.
- Revise your current marketing plan and position yourself to take action in 2013. Confirm your goals and break them down into simple steps that unfold over time.
- If you haven’t been using social media yet, start now. If you consistently use this tool now, by the end of the year you will have created a habit in time for the new year.
When you review your marketing plan from 2012, embrace your success and expand upon it for 2013. If you haven’t made the splash you hoped to achieve last January, recognize that it isn’t too late to make an impact. Choose to make the most of these last few months of 2012. Ten weeks is plenty of time to set yourself in motion. Make a solid effort to consistently reach out to your contacts and maintain important relationships. Most importantly, be sincere in every connect you make. No doubt, you will see your successes lined up when you review your progress in January. Good luck!
Yes. First impressions matter. Alot. But, I argue that sincere follow-up matters more. Why? Because if you don’t follow-up, you are forgotten as soon as you move on from the conversation. Why spend all that time attending networking events, meeting new people and gathering their business cards if you aren’t going to take a few minutes to remind them that you exist afterwards? What are the best ways to followup? In my opinion, any follow-up method will do it as long as you are genuine and prompt. Here are a few options to try:
- Email. When you get back to your office, add the business cards you collected into your contacts (with a note as to where you met and what conversation you had) and then fire off a few emails to the folks you met. Just a quick note to say that you were glad you met, comment on a conversation you had and then invite them to keep in touch.
- Social Media. Look up each individual and their companies on Linked In, Twitter and Facebook. Follow them on Twitter, Like their company pages and invite them to become part of your network. Send them a direct message telling them how glad you were to meet them and offer your services if they ever find the need.
- Phone Call. If you had a particularly nice discussion with someone, give them a quick call and add something to the conversation you already had. Invite them to lunch or for coffee to get to know them more.
- Written Note. Yes, this is a bit old school, but it is a nice touch. If you feel like you particularly connected to someone, take a moment to write them a note and invite them to attend the next event with you or grab lunch sometime.
It really doesn’t matter how you choose to follow-up, but it does matter that you take the time to do so. If you can’t do it immediately, put a reminder in your calendar for the next day to do it. Just make sure you do it within three days so that the memories are fresh and the sentiment genuine. Once you have completed this follow-up, keep note of who responds and put a reminder in your calendar to follow-up again in a few weeks. Your secondary follow-up could include an invitation to attend an event together, have lunch or coffee, company news (yours or theirs), or simply to connect on the topics you spoke about when you met. It takes time and effort to build relationships, and it all starts with the right follow-up.
We have all experienced it. We attend a networking event to meet some new people or reconnect with familiar faces in our industry, and somehow we get trapped in a single conversation with an individual. The conversation may be lovely, but you have a limited amount of time at this event and you want to make the most of it. So, how do you exit that conversation while still being polite? There are a few tricks that you should have up your sleeve so that you can make the most of your time at the event. Here is a sampling for you to try:
- Introduce the person you are talking with to another individual and then politely excuse yourself and move on.
- Politely excuse yourself to make/take a call, get a drink or locate a colleague.
- Thank them for their time and say, “I am taking all of your time, I will let you go and enjoy the rest of the evening. Nice to meet you.”
- Thank them for the lively conversation and say, “I could talk to you all night! But then we would both miss out on the great networking opportunities here. I will let you move on!”
- Locate one of your target ‘must-talk-to’ people and tell the person you are with, “I made a promise to myself that I would meet this individual tonight. If you would kindly excuse me. Thank you for your time!”
The most important thing to remember when ending conversations is to be polite. The way you exit a conversation can make as much of an impression as how you behave within one. You never want to make someone feel like you are moving on to someone more important or better than they are. Of course, it is also important to recognize if you are the offender in these situations, and keeping someone longer than is appropriate. If you recognize someone trying to make a graceful exit, by all means, let them go so that you both may take advantage of all the event has to offer!