Is it OK to add someone I just met to my automatic follow up email campaign?
The answer is yes … and no. A lot depends on how you met them. Did they just hand you their business card? Did you actually have a conversation? Did you have dinner together? A lot of this has to do with context. Business relationships aren’t built by collecting business cards at networking events and then immediately bombarding their owners with email that they didn’t ask for. They’re built on trust. So should you send them a thank you email after meeting them? Yes but first read on for the best practice for contact after the first meeting, as well as additional proper follow up.
That said, having an automated keep-in-touch program can be a good way to warm up contacts once you have properly introduced yourself. The people with whom you work are more than a collection of business cards. They’re people. Treat them that way. Instead of simply tossing business cards into an old shoebox somewhere and then sending tired email messages en masse, try these steps for successfully following up when networking:
3 Keys to making connections matter.
1. When you first meet someone at a networking event, try actually talking to them.
Instead of trying to sell yourself and shove as many of your business cards into as many hands as possible, make it a point to get to know a few people well. Find out about people’s businesses, where they’re from, what social groups they belong to, and what they are trying to get out of networking. Ask them questions about their interests, find something about the place you are that you can mention you both relate to, a common point to connect over.
Don’t worry if they don’t answer, you can leave them a message. The call should follow this format. “Hi, I just wanted to call and say how nice it was to meet you last night. How did the event go for you?” Again, don’t use this phone call as an opportunity to pitch, just get to know them better. You don’t want to get folks’ hackles up and have them brace for your sales angle.
Keep the call simple, and if you leave a message, keep it brief and to the point. It might be best to call when you aren’t doing other things, being distracted could lead to a rambling message and that isn’t an impression anyone wants to leave.
3. Send an email after the call – make it a ‘thank you email’ after meeting the person.
This email should say, “I’m glad we had a chance to chat the other day. If you ever have any questions about _________ (the industry you are in), don’t hesitate to ask. Here are my contact details; please let me know if I can help with anything. **(Include a full email signature that has your contact details, picture, links to your social media profiles, and website. The picture is important, people are more likely to recall a face than a name after a first meeting.)
It’s more than just sending a ‘thank you email’ after meeting, it’s just nice to be thoughtful like that.
The one thing you should notice about all 3 steps is that at no point did you have to sell or even talk about yourself, you just sent a thank you email after meeting, just polite, right? That’s kind of a relief, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to approach people if you have a genuine desire to learn about who they are. Once you’ve established a connection, you can feel comfortable about building and maintaining a relationship with them over time. You’ve reached out to them and have put the ball in their court. If they want to respond, the regular communications sent by your automated system will provide the perfect opportunity.
Just as your initial contact with them didn’t require any selling, your automated communications shouldn’t either. They should just provide a touchpoint that helps maintain that relationship in a human way. It should reference something interesting & timely that they would probably appreciate and that might put a smile on their face.
The email you send doesn’t even have to sell to them; it’s actually preferable if it doesn’t. Leaving the door open, so to speak, allows you to continue to send them messages that are just doing what you want “keeping in touch” and offering little bits of information and value. It is important to be memorable, in the right ways.