Professional Networking 101, Episode 4: Reaching Out, Confirming, and Following Up

Professional Networking 101 The Post-Military Professional

In Professional Networking 101, Adam Braatz of postmilitarypro.com shares insights and experiences related to professional network development — usually while traversing to/from a networking connection.

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Episode 4: Reaching Out, Confirming, and Following Up

What is the best way to request an initial connection? What about confirming or following up on your appointments? In this video Adam shares word-by-word best practices for all three scenarios. Use these tips to land a first meeting and sustain a solid professional relationship. See below for the full transcript.

Transcript:

Hello. Is there a right or a wrong way to seek out a first meeting with someone? Is there a right or a wrong way to confirm that first meeting, that first appointment? And is there a right or a wrong way to follow up after your first meeting? The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding yes. And today I’m gonna tell you best practices for all three scenarios. And I’m gonna get deep in the weeds. I’m gonna talk about specific word-for-word formulas for all three of those, so make sure you stay tuned.

My name is Adam Braatz, postmilitarypro.com. Make sure you look for the Post Military Professional on Facebook, click like. That’s a growing community so please engage with me and engage with everybody else in the movement. We’d be happy to have you as part of the family. Or click subscribe if you’re on YouTube so you can see future videos. And check out the channel for the videos that I’ve done so far. Happy to have you aboard.

So today again we’re talking about first connection requests, confirmations, and follow-ups. So your first connection request should be done via email. 98.9% of the time, that’s the preferred method of communication for most every professional, even late, prime earning year professionals, and even retired professionals. Even super old-school folks will use email as their preferred method of communications. Most are checking multiple times a day, multiple times a week. Some would prefer a phone call but those are very, very rare. And they can still be accessed via email so I would stick with that. That’s where I’ve had my highest rate of return when I seek out a first meeting.

Some people like to send out meeting requests in their customized, personalized messages in their LinkedIn connection requests. I would advise against that. That personalized message should be you just reaching out to connect with them and explaining why you wanna connect. And there’s two reasons why. Not everybody checks LinkedIn every day, or every week, or even every month. Some people do it very, very, very infrequently. So it’s not really reliable when you’re tryin’ to set up a meeting. And also, not a lot of people read those personalized messages. You should always send a personalized message when you’re doing a connection request on LinkedIn, but not everybody reads it every time. I’ve sent out meeting requests along with that when I couldn’t get a hold of somebody’s email and have a very unreliable rate of return on those. So stick with the email.

So here’s what your email should say. And this is for a first meeting only of course. Subject line, introduction and meeting request. All right, in parentheses after that, if you have a referral, write referred by Jane Smith, or whoever their name is, very simple. The body of your email is gonna have four sentences. Sentence, or I’m sorry, you start with your salutation of course which is going to be, good morning John, or good afternoon John, or good evening John. It is the perfect blend of formal and casual. I would stick with that and nothing else.

Now the body is gonna be four sentences. Sentence one is your introduction, where you say your name, your title, and your organization. My name is Adam Braatz. I am the Assistant Business Development Director with Company Incorporated, that’s sentence one. Sentence two is explaining why you wanna connect. And if you have a referral, this is where you name drop the referral again. Jane Smith suggested that we connect and that it would be beneficial for me to pick your brain. Or, I’m new to the area and notice that we have a lot of the same connections. Love an opportunity to pick your brain. Or, I notice that we have a lot of mutual connections in the industry, and I’d really appreciate a networking opportunity. All right, that’s where you’re explaining, that’s sentence two.

Sentence three is where you ask them to meet up with you. Would you be available for an advice session? I love saying that because I love advice sessions. I love getting advice and input from people. And it’s a great way to get somebody to want to engage with you. It’s a win, win, win. Or you can say, would you be up for a coffee sometime? Would you be available to connect sometime? Anything along those lines. That’s sentence three.

In sentence four, you give ’em a broad date range. ‘Cause you don’t know how far out they’re booking or how busy they are, what their schedule looks like. Don’t send ’em a list of available dates until they say that they’re actually gonna meet with you, all right? And then you sign it your salutation sincerely, or thanks so much, and then your name.

So top to bottom here’s your request email. Introduction and meeting request, referred by Jane Smith. Good morning John, my name is Adam Braatz, the Assistant Development Director with Company Incorporated. Jane Smith suggested that I reach out to you and it would be beneficial for me to pick your brain. Would you be available sometime for an advice session? Coffee on me. What does the week of June 16th look like for you? Thanks so much, Adam.

In my experience, that is the near perfect first meeting request formula. I have had a ridiculously high rate of return as I have tweaked and perfected it to that point. So feel free to use that. You know, imitation is the highest form of flattery so go ahead and use that formula at your discretion. Or tweak it a little bit, if you come up with somethin’ better, let me know. I would love to hear your insights on that.

Now your confirmation. The day before your meeting, you should always, always confirm. Especially if it’s a Monday morning meeting, ’cause that’s the most skipped, most missed meeting across the board. So make sure you carve out time on Sunday to send out a confirmation email. But either way, you should always, the day before, send a confirmation email, all right? And that email should be very short and very broad. That email should be a reply to your introduction and meeting request, not a new email. That way they can reference all the stuff before and you don’t have to get deep in the weeds and almost insult their togetherness by getting too specific on your confirmation.

For example, it’s not best practice just to say: Hi John, really looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. at Coffee Shop in Minneapolis. It’s almost insulting, you’re not reaching out to say you’re looking forward to it, it’s disingenuous. It’s clear that you’re reaching out to remind them of the time and the place, all right? So don’t be disingenuous. If you reply to the original thread, and especially if you have a mutual calendar invite that has all this information, they already know all this stuff. So give ’em a broad reminder. Hi John, really looking forward to connecting tomorrow morning, or really looking forward to connecting tomorrow afternoon. If anything changes, please contact me at, cell phone. See you tomorrow, and that’s it.

Leave your cell phone number even if it’s in your signature block. Leave no barriers to them, you know, being able to get in touch with you, it’s really important. So there it is in a nutshell top to bottom again. Reply to the original thread. Hi John, really looking forward to connecting tomorrow evening. If anything changes, please call my cell at blank. See you tomorrow. And again, thanks Adam, or however you wanna sign the signature.

Now as far as your follow up is concerned, you should always follow up. And this is not the time yet to talk about business opportunities, fund development opportunities, BtB stuff, or B2B rather. Nothing along those lines, your not trying to sell yet. You planted the seed, you’re trying to get this relationship to blossom. Don’t ruin it by harvesting too soon, all right? And besides, you’re trying to be genuine friends and acquaintances with this person, so don’t rush that part. Your follow up, I do all my follow ups Friday afternoon for all my minimum of 10 meetings throughout the week. See my first video on high-volume networking, in the YouTube channel, click subscribe, all that fun stuff. Friday afternoon I’ll send out all of my thanks. And it’s very simple, thanks so much for connecting with me on Monday, I had a great time chatting with you. And then if you can reference something from the meeting to show that you were paying attention, especially if it has nothing to do with business, all the better, you know? I’ll be sure to use that fishing lure that you mentioned. And then if you end up catching a fish with it, send a picture to him, I’ve done that before, it’s a no-brainer. Have a great weekend, done.

So three sentences. Hi John, thanks so much for connecting with me earlier this week. Had a great time chatting with you. Have a great weekend. And if you wanna drop something else in there that’s not business related, feel free to do that. I think that’s the greatest way to do that and it shows that you’re interested in fostering the relationship and not jumping too fast into money talk and business talk.

So this has been another episode of Professional Networking 101. Again, my name is Adam Braatz, postmilitarypro.com. Please find the Post Military Professional on Facebook. Join that community and engage with myself and everybody else that’s a part of it now. Also click subscribe in YouTube. And yeah, hope to hear from you soon. Leave some comments, I’ll reply to every single one of ’em. So hope to hear from ya, and have yourself a great week, bye.

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