During a recent networking event, I was chatting with a business person when he asked if I knew of some resources for a particular service he needed. One business came to mind, but I told him I’d check my contact list when I got back to the office. As this was an evening event, I told him I’d get back to him the following morning.
Afterward, he sent a message thanking me for my effort and the prompt follow through. That made me wonder: does he not normally experience that? If so, that’s too bad.
With today’s technology it’s easier than ever to reply to queries. What happens, though, if you have to return to the office to dig up an answer? More to the point, if the person asking the question is not a customer, are you as interested in following through? You should be.
Remember, your reputation rides on your actions. Like with any other promise you make, failing to follow through can tarnish your reputation. You may think (the next day, of course), “Oh, it’s no big deal. I’ll never see that guy again.” That brings up issue #2.
That person could become a customer some day. I genuinely wanted to help this individual, but I’m also thinking long term: If I can help him now, he’s likely to think of me later when he needs services I can provide.
Plus, you never know who that person may know. Leave a good impression today, and you may get a nice surprise later by way of a referral.
Set a reasonable goal to respond. If you’re at an evening networking function, tell the other person you’ll respond my mid morning or early afternoon. It’s unlikely you’ll need to reply first thing in the morning.
Bottom line: Keep your ears open for opportunities to assist. Do so with genuine interest, and follow up on that conversation when you promised you would. If you’re stymied in your research, send an interim message. The recipient will understand. And appreciate that follow up.
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