4 step plan to keeping in touch …. The effective way!

80% of developing relationships as a source of direct business, or of referrals and introductions is just staying in touch. Here’s the 4-step plan (system) I use for keeping in touch with my network of contacts, friends and colleagues. The governing principle here is repetition, keeping in regular contact.

I divide my network into 3 categories. “Clients”, both past and current. “Prospects”, people I’m hoping to do business with. And “Key Business Associates” is reserved for non-client referral sources, advocates and other important business friends and associates. Your action plan: Figure out a way to categorise your network in a way that works for you.

This next step involves assigning the letters A, B or C to each name under the category I have placed them in. This answers the
question, How often to I contact each person in my network? An “A” gets contacted (always a phone call and often an in-person,
face-to-face meeting over coffee, breakfast, lunch or a drink after work) at least once a month and more if business between us
building or on the go. (I speak to at least one and often times up to three or four of my clients/referral partners daily, every day without fail.) Your As are your top tier clients and high interest prospects.

They are your advocates, your champions. They refer you, introduce you, recommend you and open doors for you. You treat them like
gold. They account for about 15% of your network. A “B” gets a quarterly “touch base” phone call or e-mail. Your Bs are your smaller clients or could be potential smaller clients for your products or services. They are other professionals/businesses that target similar clients as you. They are either acquaintances or people you know fairly well. They are people that you think an/could champion you as well as refer and introduce you if you educate them about your business and how you work.

Your goal is to get to know them better, be more proactive in building a deeper relationship. If you keep in regular contact with
them, many will become As. Your primary focus with Bs is to turn them into As, and the surest way to do that is to treat them like an A. This group can be difficult to identify. They will account for about 20% of your network. A “C” gets contacted once or twice a year (via personal, not mass e-mail or with a phone call. I prefer the phone because it’s more personal and therefore ore effective.) They are people you don’t know well. You’re not sure about them, but still want to keep in touch. Maybe they’ll become champions and refer you, maybe they won’t, but you hope they will. Perhaps they are new contacts, but because you’ve swapped business cards you have been given the right to communicate. The great thing about your Cs is that, because you don’t know them well when you do touch base with a call or e-mail, the reaction will be positive. Most people will be glad to hear from you. In time, some will become a B and even an A.

Develop a call list and an e-mail list to focus your efforts and so that none of your contacts are ignored or forgotten about. Where do I find the time to keep in touch with people? I schedule face time with at least one my As daily either for breakfast, lunch, a cup of coffee or a drink after work. I make at least one phone call every time I travel somewhere in my car. Whenever I have a free moment I’ll make a call or send a text to someone on my list. By the end of most days I’ve made more than 20 phone calls and sent a similar number of text messages to touch base with people who are important to me. After my Rotary Club lunch on most Fridays I’ll find a quite place and for the next hour or so make several calls to people I’ve not spoken to recently. And I have no trouble (and neither will you) in finding a minute here and there to send a “touch base” text to somebody.
The important thing here is that you work your call and e-mail lists and build keeping in touch with people into your daily business routine. It’s what you must do to stay top of mind and keep your business pipeline from running dry. Make a commitment to yourself for the next 12 months–make those calls, arrange those coffee catchups, do those breakfasts and lunches, send those emails, remember your contacts’ birthdays and anniversaries and after one year your revenues/sales will grow by at least 25%. Make your clients and network contacts feel appreciated and remembered and they will give you and refer you business year after profitable year.

Just as I favour in-person, face to face meetings and phone calls over e-mail communications, I favour giving value when I reach
out to connect with people. Here I’m trying to be helpful with things like relevant articles, an introduction to a potential client or referral source or other small tokens that convey that I’m thinking of them and am keen to help. The response is always
positive and great things happen. You generate goodwill and invoke reciprocity – just one small favour can be a powerful catalyst in the growth of your business. Personally, I have found that the strongest and most profitable relationships in my network are based on reciprocation. When you help someone and they help you back and then you help them again and then they help you back again the bonds of mutual trust are cemented with both parties committed to helping each other again and again and again. Think about how you can help your clients and network contacts in ways that go beyond what you sell. Can you introduce them to a business opportunity. Do you have some great resource that they could benefit from? What one piece of useful information or advice could you give them? Continually ask yourself “What can I do to help this person?” This is what moves your relationships to a higher and more valuable level.

Email us on info@nifnex.com.au for a copy of Ron Gibson’s article titled “Inexpensive and Creative Ways to Build Business Relationships”

Referred to as “That Networking Guy” by many organizations, Ron Gibson provides in-depth networking training and coaching, focusing on business growth and development. Get Ron to speak at your next conference or sales meeting about how to network your business for growth.

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