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Joanna Goddard, commercial growth strategist, is a highly respected business consultant based in the UK

The F word; How to Follow Up

How often do you attend and host events and meetings with clients and prospects? My guess is a fair chunk of your time, be it part of your working day or a precious evening. And that’s great: If it’s productive for you. But do you follow up?

I’ve previously talked about why it’s important to evaluate which events, memberships and so on are actually worth their expense. [You can browse blogs here] But there’s something else which is crucial to ensure you are achieving every ounce of business development potential. It’s not complicated and may seem obvious but so many people just don’t bother. Some just don’t like to talk about it. The F word…

You simply must always FOLLOW UP.

My clients tell me they want to develop relationships which they hope will lead to new or repeat business in the near future. All good – it’s my area of expertise and we usually hit the ground running with a workable and strategic results-driven strategy. But I’m constantly reminded by how people don’t plan for the follow up. That’s the conversation that takes longer than planning the who and where to be seen aspect.

So I thought I’d put together a quick guide to following up:

SCHEDULE THE TIME When you or your PA schedules an event or business development meeting in your diary – schedule a follow up slot within 48 hours. By protecting a small block of time to ‘take action’ you will then ensure that the very point of attending the event is maximised. If urgent matters arise then simply drag the block of time to later that day or the next day; ultimately by having to put that small block of time somewhere it will serve as an aide memoire to actually make that follow up move. If you are too busy to schedule a 30 minute follow up slot in your diary within 5 working days then you really shouldn’t attend the event.

KEEP IT PERSONAL Ultimately ownership of following up lies with the individual. This is something you should take very seriously and commit to. Too many people think their job is done by simply having a nice lunch and a bit of a chat, often leaving the next step to the marketing department and a brochure mail out. You are the best person to decide how to follow up, as much depends on the nature of your business and how well the initial meeting has gone. It’s akin to good old-fashioned manners – if you wouldn’t think twice about dropping a message to thank a friend for dinner, then why do you not apply similar rudimentals in business?


  1. The link

Forwarding links to any information, interesting topics, news stories, background to speakers or fellow guests or in fact any aspect of conversation that arose can be an excellent way to show your interest and reflect your engagement. It doesn’t have to be onerous or time consuming – for example, sharing a previous blog your company has published is a great way of using what can be an under-exploited resource.

  1. The postcard

Yes, I said postcard – a good old fashion notelet, postcard size in an envelope with a very short hand written note says volumes about manners, care, attention, and critically, positions you in a different light from the mainstream business development hunters. Most people I know only ever receive invoices by post these days, so you can imagine the delighted responses I have enjoyed by sending a hand written note! Often sometime later clients have told me that after that first discussion about potentially engaging me, it was the hand written note that tipped the decision.

  1. The invitation

What’s coming up in your diary? Can you take a guest? Does your firm run regular events? It may not be something you need to attend, however, if it’s of interest to your contact then invite them to join you as your guest.

  1. The introduction

On the whole, the one thing business people would like – is more business. So what better than giving an introduction to someone who needs or wants their services? This is an extremely powerful message to convey to both parties involved and will result in referrals returned very quickly if you adopt this practice regularly.

  1. The blog

Do you or your firm produce a blog? Where relevant, invite your contact to provide a guest blog, or mention them in one of yours. This form of digital endorsement can be invaluable, and cross-linking helps boost website performance for both parties.

  1. Be social

You know what a stickler I am for adding value! So here is possibly my most valuable tip of all: create a system for every new business card or contact details you have. As soon as you hit your follow up time slot ensure that you look up each on social media. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter, follow their business page on LinkedIn too. That way, you will learn more and more about their news on a continuous basis, and will be able to stay engaged and informed without overkill on the ‘coffee and catch up’ syndrome.

Everyone is busy, but a little discipline and care shouldn’t be too hard for a high performing business person, so schedule the time, and make the commitment.

Follow up, people!

I hope you found this blog helpful. I specialise in measuring business development – getting more out of the time and money you spend on it and ultimately increasing your revenue. If you would like to discuss improving your own business development performance you can enquire  here.