The essence of networking is being able to relate to other people, empathize with them, and have a giving nature. If you can make other people feel good about what you do and say, that feeds into every networking approach that I can think of. Keep this in mind when you practice the little things all day, every day.
Here are two day-to-day practices that may seem like small details — you don’t need any science, test tubes, or element charts — but they are important to creating and maintaining a strong networking attitude.
1. Update your voicemail greeting daily
People will notice that you change your voicemail daily and include updates on your whereabouts. They will compliment you and feel that you care about the impression that you make on callers every day.
Let people know if you’ll be out of the office and when you will return. It shows callers that you have a fresh perspective every day and are giving them up-to-date information. It shows that their call really is important to you. I know people who add quotes and anecdotes; I just keep mine short and sweet, but current.
Just leave a quick voicemail greeting to let people know that you’ll be in the office in the afternoon, but that you’ll be traveling on business after that. Ask them to leave a message, and say that you’ll return their call as quickly as possible. Then do it!
Often enough, when I call someone and listen to their voicemail greeting, it says, “Please leave a message and I’ll call you at my earliest convenience.” That doesn’t leave me with the best impression. It implies that you’ll return my call when you get around to it. Is that really good enough?
2. Return all messages within 24 hours or the next business day
Try to return phone calls or emails within 24 hours. If the message was left on a Friday or the day before a holiday, then return the message the next business day. And I mean all phone calls — even those from people you don’t know or people who are soliciting business. You like your calls to be returned, so do the same for others.
I pride myself on returning everybody’s call within 24 hours. I even mention that on my voicemail greeting: “Please feel free to leave a message. You can rely on me to return your call within 24 hours or by the next business day.” Then I do so, and people realize that I’m true to my word. The feedback that I get is great.
When leaving your phone number as part of a follow-up voicemail message, leave it twice. That way, the recipient doesn’t have to play the message back to capture your phone number. They might be driving, or reaching for a pen, or you might speak so quickly that they didn’t get your number down the first time. I know I speak quickly, so I recite my number at the beginning of each message, and then I say, “I’ll leave you my number again at the end of this message.”
I also believe that you should return all emails within 24 hours, unless you’re traveling internationally (or happen to be on a submarine) and don’t have Internet access. You may not be able to solve a problem or follow through with something within 24 hours, but at least return their email and let them know that you got their message, that you’re working on it, and that you will be back in touch within the next couple of days.
What’s cool is that you may develop a reputation for quick follow-up, and prospects, clients, and referral sources will know they can rely on you. Hey, they may even return the favor!
These are two quick tips you can implement immediately for positive results. Put them into practice in the next 24 hours – or at your earliest convenience.
Michael Goldberg is a speaker, consultant, author, and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting. His book, “Knock-Out Networking! More Prospects, More Referrals, More Business!” was published in March. For more information or to subscribe to Michael’s free blog, The Building Blocks to Success, please visit www.TheBuildingBlockstoSuccess.com or www.BuildingBlocksConsulting.com.