Im constantly being asked about where to find the best new connections. Its a good question, but not the most important one. Once you learn where to meet people, making new connections is almost effortless: you swap cards and link up on LinkedIn.
The skill that separates the successful from the failures is maintaining strong visibility throughout your network. Todays clients/customers are skeptical and cautious, so the journey from consideration to purchase can be a long one and you have to be present all along the way. According to Chilton research, here are the numbers of how long most deals take in the business world:
- 15% close within the first three months.
- 24% close within four to six months.
- 34% close within seven to twelve months.
- 27% close more than twelve months later.
When your contacts are finally ready to buy, are they reaching out to you, or the person they just met last week? Are you staying top-of-mind, or out of sight, out of mind?
Here are three simple tips to keep your connections from withering away:
1. Stay in Touch on a Consistent Basis
Everyones got a bloated contact list sitting around gathering dust, but its worthless if you dont use it. If your network is not hearing from you, youre the first business card they throw away.
Send a newsletter at least once a month to all your contacts. But tread carefully: make sure that youre actually providing valuable information, not vapid self-promotion. How can you tell if its valuable? If you miss a month, your readers should be clamoring for the next edition.
2. Learn What They Care About
Unfortunately, mass emails wont cut it alone. The art and value of personalized correspondence will never go out of style.
Do you remember that contact thats fallen deep in amour with France? Snap a picture of that of that cute Parisian caf you found and send it their way. Your newest prospect mentioned that their son is a Sesame Street fanatic? Tell him about the special concert you just heard about. Come across a book that immediately makes you think of an old acquaintance? Buy it and send it to them.
People do business with those they know, like, and trust. By showing that you remember their favorite things, you demonstrate that you genuinely care.
3. Make Your Contacts Your Priority
Networking is a two-way street. Always be on the lookout for opportunities you can funnel to someone in your network: they wont forget it. Whether youre referring them a weighty contract, a one-time buy, or just acknowledging them in your social media feed, when you make helping others your first priority, youll find they pay it back tenfold.
Planting seeds is the easy part. Making them grow is a bit trickier. Follow the tips above to ensure your network blossoms into a thing of beauty. Just remember that visibility and credibility lead to profitability.
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