Be a Networking Star with Solid Follow Up

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Career transition has three keys: focus, packaging and process. One or two without the others is bound for failure. However, elemental to process is networking, and by itself, networking mistakes can end a transition. Networking is 20 percent making contacts and 80 percent follow up. It’s that simple. If all you do is make new contacts, your transition will take 80 percent longer to complete, if you’re successful at all.

So let’s talk about follow up: what it is and how to do it.

You attend a great biotech conference and walk out with 25 business cards from people you chatted with and both agreed you should speak further. What do you do next? If you’ve read my e-book you’ll send each of them a brief, “great to meet you” note stating that you’ll call next week, and enclose your business card. If you didn’t read my e-book, you’ll probably try to call them sometime over the next two weeks. Most likely, you won’t reach them, so you’ll leave a voice message stating, “this is doctor Smith, and we met at the biotech conference last week. Call me when you get a chance.” What will most likely happen? She won’t return your call.

Why? You were probably one of many people she met, even though you’re a physician she may not recall you from someone else, you didn’t say why you were calling, what is the value of the call? Why were you following up. Try this voice message, “this is doctor Smith, at last week’s biotech conference we were discussing some product concerns you’re having at your company and I have some ideas that may help you. You may reach me at 751-225-2000 and tell my receptionist you’re returning my call from the biotech conference. Also, I’ll call you again a bit later.”

First, be sure to tell your receptionist the expected caller’s name, that she may reference the biotech conference and having met last week, and to interrupt you. Next, wait an hour or so and call again. If you get voice mail again, simply say, “this is doctor Smith. I’m looking forward to speaking with you. My number is 751-225-2000.” Now, wait until after hours at her office and call again. I again you get her voice mail, don’t leave a message. I can script this process out to about two weeks of calls and messages, but that’s not really the focus of this article.

The point is, follow up is your responsibility, regardless of whose court the proverbial ball should be in at any given time. Follow up means being a pest without seeming like one. In the example above, you could leave your name and number as a message with each call. Why, she already has that information, and you’re showing just a bit of desperation – or stalking.

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Nevertheless, the point is you will find follow up much more challenging in the non-clinical world than in practice. Not to mention, your office may not be accustomed to your taking calls from non-physicians, so even when your calls are returned, your staff will screen them out.

Here’s a tip, buy a separate cell phone only for your career transition calls.

Now that you understand that follow up is your responsibility, how and when do you follow up. You may usually follow up by phone or email, sometimes snail mail, and you follow up persistently until you reach your target.

This can be quite a challenge for physicians in practice, particularly busy practices and particularly practices that rely on referrals. Let me explain.