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I recently listened to the "Building a network" cast from last May, and I found it very useful.

I do have a question though. I am an IT consultant, and I meet a lot of potential customers through various pre-sales activities. Some of these contacts go on to become customers of mine that I naturally keep in touch with, and some do not.

So my question here relates to those that do not turn into customers. How do I add these folks to my personal network and stay in contact with them, without it making it seem like I am attemping to "shmooze" them into becoming a customer?

Jason

Mark's picture

So, in other words, the only reason you stay in touch with those that become customers is because they pay you.

And, it's hard to motivate yourself to be nice to people, to ask them how they are, to be polite, to ask if they need help, or some other gracious gesture of support, when they aren't paying you.

The point of our cast was that you were building a network, NOT networking. NOT schmoozing.

The way you stay in contact with people is that you.. stay in contact with them. Call them shortly after you meet them, and tell them you enjoyed chatting and hope they did as well. Wish them well. A couple of months later, send an email with a comment about something you noticed that might be of value to them, or just tell them hello and wish them well.

NO HOPE OF MONEY. NO INTENT FOR PERSONAL GAIN.

Just be nice.

Works great.

If you find it hard to be nice, that's okay...but you should know that many folks you meet think it's because you're selfish. Reach out, get to know THEM, offer to help THEM, think about THEM.

It'll be awkward at first, like everything else you do. But you'll get better.

Mark

jclishe's picture

Thanks for the reply, Mark. Let me clarify my thoughts.

"So, in other words, the only reason you stay in touch with those that become customers is because they pay you."

No. I naturally spend time with my customers, and the time that we spend together builds an organic relationship and mutual trust, and these folks know that my efforts to stay in touch with them is out of genuine interest in them personally, and not a mere sales attempt on my part. Yes, admittedly, the relationships began because they paid me to work with them, but they evolved into relationships of mutual trust.

"no hope of money, no intent for personal gain".

EXACTLY! That's exactly my point.

If I originally met someone because I wanted them to hire me, won't they naturally feel that all of my efforts to keep in contact with them are only in hopes of turning them into a paying customer? (even though my real intent is simply to keep them in my network).

If I go to a car dealership to test drive a car that I decide not to buy, and then 3 months later the salesman called me up to ask me how I was doing - I'm sorry, but my immediate instinct is that this guy is only keeping in touch with me because he wants me to come back and buy a car from him one day. How do I avoid people feeling that way about me?

Jason

juliahhavener's picture

Make it about them. Simply let them know that you enjoyed meeting them and would like to keep in touch. Most folks figure it out when your contact doesn't involve 'by the way, I can sell you this car.'

asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Jason

I think I see where you are coming from. I have a super elderly great aunt who believes that she can't accept any favours from anyone otherwise she will owe them. Thus, she spends tons of time alone.

I tried to explain to her that no, some people just like doing nice stuff because they can. She has to change her mindset. Unfortunately, at the age of 90, I don't see much chance of her doing this.

I take it you are considerably younger than 90 and can start working on giving people the benefit of the doubt. When you start applying this attitude/behaviour consistenly and honestly, that is the vibe people will pick up from you.

*RNTT

Mark's picture

"If I originally met someone because I wanted them to hire me, won't they naturally feel that all of my efforts to keep in contact with them are only in hopes of turning them into a paying customer?"

No.

Mark

attmonk's picture

I'm at the same place you are, just starting to apply this and boy does it feel awkward and wierd.

Yes, you worry that people will start and wonder what its all about, why is this guy speaking to me? why now? what does he want?

I had a brief meeting with the MD of an IT company we were working with about 2 months ago. He was there to meet our sales guys but we had a brief chat and swapped cards and parted. The following day I sent him an email saying I had enjoyed our chat and hoped the relationship between our firms worked well, told him if there was anything I could do for him then he could get in touch,wished him a good day and signed off. It felt a bit strange but I let it go. Last week I got a call from the guy asking if his son could come visit my site as part of a school project, to which I agreed. I made time in my calandar and took the lad around site. I gave him some info packs from work and everything he could want.
I do believe I just made a friend for life.
And I feel a bit less awkward and wierd about doing the same reach out every time I do it.

You may even think that the stuff M&M talk about has actually been tried and tested and proven to work, or is that asking too much?? :D

jclishe's picture

That's a great story attmonk, and it really hits home. I appreciate everyone's feedback here.