Statistics show that only three out of every 15 people you meet at a function will send you a note or make a follow-up connection. What a waste of marketing effort and dollars! Business developers have been preaching this type of personal follow up as general practice for years. It still applies, and for good reason. We should all express our gratitude for the connections we make with others.
Many people fail to recognize the impact a personal note can have on building relationships. In addition, we all know that following up after making connections with others is the cornerstone for professional services marketing. However, even if we realize how much we appreciate receiving that rare thank you letter, it’s easy to hop right back into the deadlines and crises when we get back in the office, skipping this powerful step. As a general rule of thumb, following up with a note saying, “thank you” should occur in these circumstances:
If you meet them, thank them. You can go “old school” and send a short, handwritten note, including a business card, to all of those individuals with whom you connected at a function. Send an email or use LinkedIn to reach out and make that additional connection while you thank them. These notes give you an opportunity to add another acceptable touch, help to keep you top of mind with that connection and give you another opportunity to thank them for their time.
Tip: While thanking them, remind them of some detail you discussed together.
Many people keep blank cards branded with their company’s logo on them, just for handwritten notes. Your email should include a digital business card if you choose that route, so you can be added to their contact database. Your LinkedIn profile should be complete and highlight your personal brand as an expert in your field. If applicable, your profile should reaffirm what you summarized in your elevator speech when you met. Even folks you can’t foresee becoming a client should be thanked. The more connections you have, the more likely one of them will help sell your services to others. The larger your network, the more likely your network is to recommend you to others; recommendations are one of the most effective marketing tools you can have.
If they help you, thank them. People in your network will often help you by referring you to others, calling with leads, or connecting you with prospects. Again, this is a good time for that handwritten or electronic note of thanks. A recommendation by a friend or colleague is one of the most powerful marketing tools there is. So thank them as often as possible, and even thank them before the recommendation happens. When the time comes, they will know you will appreciate the lead because you have already told them so.
If you’ve got them, keep them! Companies with longevity are in the business of working for repeat customers. How are they keeping their clients coming back for more, in addition to delivering a quality product or service? A simple “thank you” works wonders. Thank your clients and past clients often. Keep communications open. Provide them with a way to express their opinion about how things are going, both during and after a project. Maintain regular contact with them regardless of whether they currently have billable work in your organization or not. You’ll be amazed at how this simple, crucial, personal step of expressing your appreciation can transform your business development efforts, and make your company one of the most valued and respected organizations out there! People are drawn to working with gracious people. So, don’t forget to say “thank you.”
Tools to help you say. “Thanks!”
- Branded cards or stationary – These versatile pieces can be used for all sorts of communications, from simple gratitude, to words of affirmation, to congratulatory notes, to sympathy gestures or just acts of kindness. Having a quality supply of branded blank cards is essential.
- Branded email signature –Make sure you have a complete and accurately branded email signature so people can easily add you to their database or contact you when needed. Some have set up a variety of email signature versions to choose from, including headshots, links and other important information depending on the recipient. Others are attaching V-cards to make capturing your shared signature data as easy as one click.
- Complete LinkedIn profile – LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool that can be used not only to showcase your personal brand, but also to communicate with people in your network.
- Personalized gifts and gestures – Building relationships with gift vendors like florists, candy stores, bakeries, butchers, and trinket/swag suppliers is essential to being able to act quickly when the need for a gift arises. Choosing a gift that is appropriate to the occasion and to the client shows the recipient that you truly put thought into the authentic gesture.
- Online greeting card apps – There are some great online card apps that can be used to send virtual handwritten notes of thanks and other appropriate greetings.