One of the biggest struggles introverts face when it comes to networking is following up properly. Which is why I asked 4 successful entrepreneurs 4 questions around following up.
But before I share their answers I’d like to give a brief background on each entrepreneur and why I reached out to them.
Tayo Rockson is a TEDx speaker, consultant, and hosts a widely popular podcast (recently ranked as the #2 business podcast in the world by Entrepreneur and CIO) with an international audience on entrepreneurship, being a third culture kid (TCK), cultural diversity/personal branding, and building culturally competent teams in corporate organizations.
He has spoken at TEDx multiple times, the World Bank, United Nations Foundation among many other places and his work has been seen on NowThis News, Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, among Worlds Magazine as well as Global Living Magazine.
Tayo was raised in Nigeria, Sweden, Burkina Faso, Vietnam, and the USA.
Victor Ekpo Bassey is the co-founder of the highly paid experts network…an international entrepreneurial leadership development community devoted to helping entrepreneurs become high profile, highly paid persons of influence in their field.
Aramide Abe is an entrepreneur and the founder of Naija Startups, a virtual sector-agnostic startup accelerator, which has a vision to facilitate small business growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has collaborated with organisations such as Google to deliver capability building and skills for thousands of entrepreneurs in Nigeria and continues to partner with other organisations to provide value-added services to business owners across Africa.
Aramide has lived in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe over the past 18 years.
I reached out to Victor Bassey and Sisi Yemmie because I know that their work makes them come in contact with a lot of people both offline and online. I was intrigued to hear what they had to say about following up - how they follow up with what I imagine is a huge network
For Tayo Rockson and Aramide Abe, I was curious about how they maintained relationships with all the people they've met in all the countries and continents they've lived in.
What following up/keeping in touch tips/hacks/advice would you like to share with us?
Victor Bassey: I personally believe that it’s vitally important to be helpful and make every interaction count. What that means essentially is that I can’t afford to follow up on every contact. Generally I know right from the first meeting if I’m going to invest my time in cultivating a relationship with a person right. That decision determines to a large extent who I invest time with. Once I do decide to invest in building a relationship…I believe every interaction must count.
Sisi Yemmie: I'd say do it immediately. I get loads of messages and emails and I find the earlier I respond to them, the better. Once I procrastinate, the emails get forgotten, the call is never made and I never remember to keep in touch.
Aramide Abe: Always follow up immediately/as soon as possible as procrastination kills effective follow-ups
Tayo Rockson’s hacks:
Set aside 15 minutes a day to create a list of people in your network that you want to follow up with in your network then look at the social media pages of the people you created a list for.
Comment or respond to a caption as you scroll through their pages.
Make sure to say happy birthday to people via Facebook but instead of writing on their wall, send them a DM. This speaks volumes and opens the door to check in on old friends.
When you check in on contacts, ask for ways you can help them.
Sign up for Google Alerts for contacts you want to keep in contact with.
2. What mistakes have you made/have you seen others make when it comes to following up/keeping in touch?
Victor Bassey: Believing that that every contact is immediately valuable.
Tayo Rockson: A mistake I see a lot of people make when following up is not operating from a giver's point of view. They ask for favors. If the first words out of your mouth when following up with people is "can you help me find a job?" Or "can you do something for me?" then in more instances than not, you risk turning that contact off.
Instead, I advise that you ask for ways you can offer help or introductions you can help them make.
Aramide Abe: Putting things off or not being strategic with following up - for some people, timing is key. Following up too early or too late may prove ineffective.
Sisi Yemmie: The mistake I always make would still be procrastination and it is not out of laziness though, but not been as organised as I should be.
3. What top positive experience(s) have you had from keeping in touch with your network?
Victor Bassey: There are many…I’ve had many doors opened and opportunities made available to me simply because I maintained positive relationships with key people.
Aramide Abe: New opportunities because by following up I remained fresh/relevant in their minds and thus, they remembered me when something in line with my industry/niche came up either in a conversation they were having or as a point to further introduce me to an enabler
Sisi Yemmie: Always showing gratitude and being courteous will go an extra mile. Regardless of what it is, that extra "how are you doing" and occasional "check in's" will pay off.
Tayo Rockson: A top positive experience I have had from keeping in touch with my network is that I noticed one of my contacts needed an introduction to a black couple in Luxembourg to interview. I reached out to my network by putting up a status on my Facebook. Within a few hours, I had a few people reach out to me and I was able to connect my friends to a black Luxembourg couple.
Also, a while back, I gave a keynote at a conference and ended up connecting and building rapport throughout the year with one of the other speakers. After the elections here in America, I noticed he was quite vocal about a lot of things I cared about so I checked in with him to commend him on his bravery and thoughts. We occasionally traded emails back and forth when I had an idea that connected both of our passions for equality.
I reached out to him and told him what I was up to with my work on diversity and inclusion and how I was reaching out to startups to share my message of inclusion with them.
I asked if he would be willing to make an introduction to his HR department and thankfully he did. His intro led me to one of my favorite corporate clients.
4. Why do you keep in touch/follow up with your network?
Sisi Yemmie: I keep in touch to always be in the know of recent happenings and also to be on the forefront of their minds when it comes to business. I am a blogger and work with quite a few brands, keeping in touch is necessary so that they don't forget about you.
Victor Bassey: To consistently be of value and service to them.
Tayo Rockson: I keep in touch with my network because I am constantly on be look out for ways I can provide value and develop leaders. So when I see areas of opportunity and collaboration, I seize them.
My mantra is use your difference to make a difference and I love helping people connect across cultures so when I keep in touch, I have that in mind.
Aramide Abe: To not only get value from my network but also to add value. Networking is more effective when there is reciprocity, not necessarily always at the same time.
My biggest takeaways from their responses:
Prioritize and be selective - you can’t follow up with everyone and not everyone is immediately important. To me, this means it’s best to pick and choose a select few who are immediately and seek to follow up with them in a way that adds value. If you’ve tried to constantly follow up with everyone on your contact list, then you know how overwhelming and stressful it is.
Give before you ask - I’m one of those people Tayo talks about that gets turned off by takers. If you reach out to me and constantly ask without giving, you best believe our relationship will fizzle out. I have let relationships fizzle out because every time that person called me, it was always a ‘can you help me…?’ call.
You can look as relationships as empty buckets; the more you add value, check in, the more helpful you are the more water is added to those buckets. If you don’t add value then you still have an empty bucket and you can’t draw from an empty bucket.
RECAP - Follow Up Tips
Be selective/ Prioritize - not everyone is IMMEDIATELY important
Make every interaction count/ Add value
Do it immediately, don’t procrastinate
Have a strategy for following up
Check in with the select few
Give before asking
Following up is a key networking activity. It is how you stay top of mind so you’re not forgotten, build relationships, get access to new opportunities, let people know what you’re working on.
Is failing to follow up costing you tons of new opportunities? How would your life be better if you were able to follow up properly?
If you want a very comprehensive guide to following up in a way that helps you get more out of your network, my new course Maximize Your Existing Network shows you exactly how to get your biggest challenge solved using the network you already have in 30 days or less. You can learn more about Maximize Your Existing Network here.