Uncomfortable Networking Follow-Up Calls: How to Avoid Making Another One

“I would like to help you and your husband and want to set a time when we can all sit down and I will show you how I can save you money” said a woman I met at a networking event the night before.

“Thanks, that is a great service, but I already have a financial planner” I fibbed.

“Really? Who?”

I stammered out a name and blocked the caller’s number as soon as we hung up. Networking follow up. The challenge to strike a good balance between encouraging a relationship with warm leads and everyone else in between. Your networking contacts are infinitely more likely to hear you out if you make your pitch about them. Did I mention that I have a particular problem that you can solve when we met? Ask me questions about that! If not, then guide a naturally-flowing conversation to learn what I might want from your services, then ask more follow up questions to understand what I mean, and demonstrate that you have insight into my problems.

Here is an example of how the caller could encourage me want to know more about her services and feel like she cares about me, meanwhile she learns about my needs that she can address. Because I am young, leading with retirement is going to be a hard sell, so target something I already think about for an easier problem you can solve.

1. Ask an audience-targeted, open-ended question.

There might be some ways that I can help you, and I’d like to do that if I can. Do you have any    projects around the house or trips that you would like to be saving for in the short term?

2. Clarify the answer.

Landscaping project! Great. Do you already have an ideal budget? Rough start date?

3. Enthusiastically fit that answer into your closing pitch.

That is awesome! I help people just like you create short term savings just like this and do so     while keeping long term financial strategies intact. I would love to hear more about your plans and see if I can offer some ideas to balance both. Is there any reason we couldn’t find a time to have coffee and speak more?

I would very likely agree to this meeting and sell my husband on it, which is the goal. The second part of the call that I want to address is getting the meeting with the spouse without giving a creepy 1950s vibe. That is totally doable. So, here we go.  You need me to sell your meeting to my husband. Let’s pick up where the script leaves off.

4. Add-on the spouse in a way that still feels like it’s “about me.”

Because any changes to your saving and spending involve both you and your husband, we can usually make the most impact most quickly if we all three sit down together to review your options. How does it sound?

If, on the other hand, your first question didn’t pinpoint a particular problem I have that you can address, there is probably no way I can sell this meeting to my husband, so keep asking open-ended questions until you find an opening so you can close in a client-centered way. If it turns out that I am not a good lead, please respect everyone and most importantly yourself by not trying to do a hard close. Save those for responses to your marketing, when the lead was warm to start with. Instead, offer to follow up and invite referrals.

On the receiving end, there are things we can do when a follow up network call feels like cold sales. And, that is the one thing about the call I quoted at the beginning that I am not happy with for myself. I don’t have a financial planner. I told a lie under social pressure. Please don’t inundate me! We have numbers people, just not a “financial planner,” but I was not true to my own emotional intelligence because I felt unsafe in that cold call. Next time I will be myself. I plan to say something like:

I know how difficult it is to sell, and you may be an amazing financial planner, but this call makes me uncomfortable.

A few additional ideas about warming up the networking follow up calls include: Liking the potential client’s Facebook business page and posts; sending a friendly email letting the person know that you will call and why (in a way that’s about them) including a link to your business and Linked In profile; and most importantly, asking contacts you meet if they would mind to get a call from you to talk more about how you might be able to help each other when you are in the process of exchanging business cards.

How do you keep your follow up calls friendly and productive? How do you deal with networking follow up calls that make you uncomfortable?