Most insurance advisors don’t follow up simply because the contacts they make at an event or holiday party don’t present themselves as prospects – because they’re not prospects. If a contact you make does present themselves as a prospect (“Yes, I’m in the market for life insurance”), well, then, you’ll know it. And you’ll know how to follow up. Am I right?

Networking is all about learning and helping people. By doing so, people will help you right back. Networking is not about selling a product or service. So when advisors don’t follow up with a great contact, it’s because they don’t recognize the potential value of the connection. If they connect with someone who presents themselves as a prospect (“Yes, I’m in the market for life insurance”), however, then follow-up always happens.

It boils down to a lack of networking knowledge. The bottom line is that networking is about relationships. If you don’t follow up with great contacts, you won’t be able to develop important relationships. Good agents know it; great agents do it.

There are actually four phases of networking.

  1. Preparation. Doing your homework before an event
  2. Presentation. What you say and do at the event
  3. Follow-up. What you do after the event
  4. Maintenance. What you do to maintain connections made at events

The follow-up should always come at the end of the presentation phase. If there is a reason to follow up, mention it during the business card exchange and be clear about why it makes good sense for that person to get back in touch with you.

Suggest a time frame (whenever possible, follow up within 24 hours or during the next business day) and next steps. I say something like, “I don’t want to take up your networking time here. Would you be interested in continuing our conversation at another time?”

If the person agrees with me, we exchange cards, and I usually jot a note on the back of the person’s card (with their permission) indicating my next steps. At this point, I might also offer or request an introduction to someone else. The next day, I’ll send a handwritten note to the person I’ve just met (yes, as in snail mail) and call to set up a time to chat on the phone or meet in person.

It’s important to follow up with someone when there’s a good reason to do so, and certainly when you say you will. However, if there doesn’t seem to be a reason to follow up, simply shake hands, say, “nice to meet you,” offer or request an introduction to someone else if appropriate, and politely move on.

Who do you need to follow up with today?

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, author, consultant and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting.For more information or to subscribe to Michael’s free online newsletter and blog The Building Blocks to Success please visit www.NetworkingForProducers.com or www.TheBuildingBlockstoSuccess.com.