Happy New Year, I hope you had an enjoyable break.
The two weeks over Christmas is traditionally a time to take stock, look back at the previous 12 months and think ahead, making resolutions of things we must change over the coming year, whether in our personal or in our professional lives.
Another tradition comes early in the New Year for many, and that is the failure to follow through on any of our long list of resolutions! So, instead of resolving to do many things differently, why not focus on just one or two things you can do better?
In networking there is one thing above anything else that most people can do better... follow up. Whether following up on new contacts, old friends or on promises made, you can make a huge impression and strengthen your network considerably simply by seeing things through.
I've often commented on how amazed I am about how poorly most people follow up on conversations and contacts with their network. Even people I trust implicitly and have the highest respect for can fall down in this area.
A few weeks before Christmas I promised a referral to someone very close to me. It was not the easiest referral for me to make as it required me to ask for the connection from someone who is not very open to helping, but it made a lot of sense for both parties I wanted to introduce.
I went ahead and asked for the connection and my contact reluctantly acceded, asking for some information they could pass on. I immediately emailed my friend and asked for a short email I could use to make the introduction...and duly heard nothing back.
Earlier this week I chased my friend up for the information. He had received my email but it had just sat there, waiting to be dealt with. Unaware that I had struggled to get the introduction, he hadn't prioritised the information.
Perhaps it wasn't an important enough connection for him; in which case he should not have requested the referral in the first place. More likely, other things got in the way and it got stuck in his 'to do' list.
It's easily done, particularly as he was unaware of the difficulty I had asking for the introduction. But his lack of action reflects poorly on him and also on me with my contact.
If someone offers you a referral in 2013, make sure you follow up. If it's not an introduction you want, communicate that clearly but politely. Even offer to pass it onto someone more appropriate. If it is, make both yourself and your champion look good by responding in good time.
If you meet someone new in 2013 and want to build a relationship with them, follow up and arrange to see them again. You can't rely just on that first meeting to establish a long-term bond.
And take a look at your contact book. Who didn't you see or speak to in 2012 with whom you should re-establish your relationship? Pick up the phone and arrange to meet.
New Year is traditionally a time for resolutions. Make it a happy one by following up.
Follow Andy Lopata on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andylopata