Tuesday
May152012

« 9. EQ skills: How to stay in contact »

By Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute; Author of "Business networking" (now out of print).

How do you feel about contacting people after you've met them at a networking event?

Do you feel apathetic, awkward or enthusiastic? 

How you feel may influence what you do. That's why emotional intelligence is relevant to your networking success.

There is an important word in networking and it is "work".

How do you feel about putting in the work? Do you feel lazy and disinterested, or excited and determined? These emotions could influence your networking success or lead to failure.

Yes, networking requires work, time and commitment. It is not just about going to a lovely breakfast or sundowner and enjoying the food, wine and conversation. That's having a party.

There is a great deal more to networking than just turning up, unless of course, you are not busy and simply want to attend events to be sociable and have a good time.

The idea of networking is to develop an ongoing group of people with whom you stay in contact. This is in contrast to engaging in one-off social interactions that are pleasant but lead nowhere.

It has struck me time and time again how few people take the next step and actually stay in contact once they have met. What will you do to motivate yourself and create the emotions that will move you towards staying in contact?

Why invest all that emotional energy in turning up and meeting and greeting people only to do nothing later? This is not emotionally intelligent. 

A wasted opportunity

I experienced an obvious example of this recently.

I asked someone if I could buy her product. I explained there was a serious possibility that I could sell and promote her products for her as they fitted in perfectly with the topic of one of my keynote speeches. 

The person did not have any of her products for sale but she had a demonstration sample. I discussed it with her. I gave her my card. She talked to me about giving me a discount for bulk purchases. I expressed a sincere and genuine enthusiasm. I looked forward to our being in contact.

What has happened since then? Nothing. I have received no phone call. I have not heard via email. I have not been sent anything in the post. Even if she'd lost my card I am quite well known and it would be easy to track me down.

Yes, I could contact her. That's not the point.

As with all customers, I am far more likely to buy from you if you follow-up than if you leave it to me, as I may forget, get busy, or be contacted by a competitor in the interim.

Also, if you don't contact me I may be put off by your lack of enthusiasm or follow-through.

Is emotional intelligence required to be a successful networker?

Do you require emotional intelligence to be a successful networker? Yes. There are emotions that can help you.

Do you have the best emotions for the task? Can you manage your emotions so that you DO stay in contact afterwards?

For example, this woman needed to feel determined to contact me again, to feel enthusiastic about the possibility of bulk sales, to feel motivated to act. I am presuming she didn't feel these and was unable to know how to manage her emotions so that she did.

Do you get yourself in the best emotional framework to take action after networking and contact the people you met? Or do you just say you don't have the time? It's not time you don't have, it's the emotions. Emotional intelligence is crucial.

EQ skills: When to re-contact people you have met

I have a simple saying: "You haven't networked until you have been in contact again". You need to contact people and stay in touch.

What are the networking basics for staying in contact? There is a fundamental one and that is: re-contact the people you have met within 3-4 days of meeting them.

Let's look at how to do this.

EQ skills 1: Get organised

Networking requires you to be well organised if you are serious about helping your business and helping other people. Once you've got back to your office sort through the business cards or details you have obtained.

Make a list of all the e-mail addresses and save them in your address book as a group, e.g. "People met at Foxgrid's networking lunch".

Alternatively, group everyone according to their interests. For example, I save people's details under "networking", "emotional intelligence" or "confidence". This helps me to remember to re-contact each person that I meet and to send relevant follow-up material.

Does this require time, yes? And organisational skills and good emotional management. If you are delighted with the opportunities that you have been given you are more likely to find the time than if you feel listless or weary of networking. Emotional intelligence and your emotions affect everything you do including organising yourself after a networking event.

EQ skills 2: Decide how to re-contact people

There are many ways to stay in contact. With the advent of e-mail there really is no excuse for not doing it. It's not as though you have to find an envelope or a stamp, or drive to the post box, these days. However, that is still an option.

Here are five ways to stay in contact. There are more.

  1. Send an e-mail.
  2. Contact them on a social networking site, especially if the event at which you met arose because of such a site, such as a LinkedIn group. These sites make re-contacting people so easy. Some of the LinkedIn networking events, for instance, even supply you with a list of everyone who is attending and you can click through to read their profiles and send messages. It has never been easier to stay in contact.
  3. Send them something through the snail mail postal system, such as a card, a personal handwritten thank you, or an invitation to a similar event.
  4. Phone them.
  5. Subscribe them (with their permission) to a newsletter or E-Zine that you write.

EQ skills 3: Decide what the contact will contain

Once you've decided how you'll contact them decide what you'll say or what you'll send. This will be determined by at least three things:

  1. The person you met and their interests.
  2. The discussion you had.
  3. What your own interests are, the resources you have, and your professional and other knowledge.

The possibilities are endless.

Examples

The easiest way for me to demonstrate the point is to show you a sample of some of the re-contacting I have been involved in recently following networking events. Here are some examples:

  1. I met a manager of an important organisation and he put me in contact with another manager in his organisation. I arranged a meeting with this second manager and it went very well. I wrote to the first manager and thanked him for putting us in contact and telling him what a good outcome had arisen.
  2. I met a woman who had lived and worked in Bahrain for a number of years. I had been offered an opportunity to work in Bahrain prior to meeting her but had turned it down. I re-contacted her saying how much I'd enjoyed hearing her story of Bahrain and how I hoped we would be able to chat again.
  3. A gentleman asked me about developing his presentation skills. I arranged to meet him the following week and went for coffee. Following that discussion I re-contacted him again with the name and contact details of someone who could provide him with the ongoing training and practice sessions he required and who lived close by him.
  4. I re-contacted the host of a networking event I went to and asked him to send me ten of his business cards. I said I would display them in my client area for clients and visitors to view, and that I only displayed a select number of cards there. They are on display and I have sent two people to him already.

EQ skills: Another 4 ways I have stayed in contact

  1. I attended a networking event and was the keynote speaker on networking. Afterwards, I sent each person that I met a handout on the networking speech. I made it up especially for that group and incorporated into it the questions, examples and comments that arose that evening. This meant I reconnected with everyone.
  2. I went to dinner and met a woman who talked to me about lipstick. She was very enthusiastic about some lipstick she had that would stay on for hours without smudging. Wow! Was I interested in that? You bet. As a speaker I need to look as good at the end of an hour-and-a-half speech as I do at the beginning with my makeup still intact. I contacted her afterwards for the details. I've since bought some and now we're having tea together! She has since invited me to speak to her group.
  3. I met two women who had come to a LinkedIn networking breakfast. As I was talking to them it turned out they'd found out about the event through other means and didn't know what LinkedIn was. Nor had they heard of our group. I offered to send them the details and they agreed. When I re-contacted them I sent information on LinkedIn, explained what they had to do, gave them the name and URL for the group involved, and invited them to connect with me. One of them did.
  4. I forwarded the details of a gentleman I met to one of my clients. I explained who he was and how knowledgeable I'd found him. Once I had given this recommendation I then re-contacted the gentleman to let him know I had forwarded his details to my client who was interested in engaging his services.

The list really is endless! What matters is that you find a way to stay in contact that is:

  1. Relevant.
  2. Personal.
  3. Timely.

You'll never know where it will lead.

All the way through this you need to manage your feelings towards developing a network of contacts. If it feels daunting or awkward to you, you are less likely to re-contact people than if you feel pleased or at ease.

What emotions do you take networking with you and which ones do you evoke to help you stay in contact? Being able to generate the emotions that help you with a task, such as re-contacting people, is an emotional intelligence skill. Your emotions and emotional intelligence can be acting behind the scenes to help you.

Develop your business networking and emotional intelligence

There is so much more to learn about how to engage people, how to develop high levels of emotional intelligence, and how to be brilliant at business networking so you build your business. We have only scratched the surface here. Would you like yourself or your team to be even more skilled at business networking so they engage the people who matter? You can. With us

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us and we will discuss your options with you.