Claire Bradford: Meeting people is all about the follow-up

These days, there is a multitude of ways to meet people who can benefit your business.

Online and offline networking – or just chatting at the bus stop – can put you in touch with a great supplier, a valuable learning resource or enthusiastic new customer.

But just meeting someone interesting isn’t enough – the fortune is in the follow-up.

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There are a number of ways to make sure that new contact doesn’t remain just a great conversation you had once.

If you met in real life, don’t just shove their business card in your pocket and forget about it.

Put their details into your database (or at least your phone) and then call, email or text them to suggest that you meet up for a more in-depth chat about how you can help each other. Then do it!

Whether you met on or offline, find and follow their company’s twitter account, Facebook page or G+ account.

Maybe subscribe to their blog and comment on a post or two. Make a connection. Engage with their business.

Connect with local businesses on social media. Find out when your local chat hour is on twitter (#worthinghour is Wednesday 8:30-9:30pm) or find local Facebook pages like Sunny Worthing.

Meet up for a coffee and explore how you can help or support each other.

Also connect with global, industry-specific businesses.

Retweet or share their posts, see how they do things in other countries in your industry, be inspired and pass it on.

Ask the people you meet if they would like to receive your email newsletters so they can stay in touch.

Sign up for theirs. But don’t ever sign people up without their permission – it’s unprofessional and rude.

Send your connection a handwritten note telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them and love reading their blog posts, and would like to propose a joint venture over lunch.

Handwritten notes via the post are a rarity these days – you’ll certainly stand out.

If someone has expressed an interest in your products or services, do follow up by email or phone.

It’s fine to chase up three or four times (people are busy and things do get overlooked sometimes) but if they’re not responding, take the hint!

Do email me your follow-up tips at [email protected]