Networking Pipeline Blocks: “I’ve left it too long to get in touch!”

Posted by: on Jul 30, 2014 | No Comments

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During our advanced networking training we look at the contacts that people have started to make and how they are progressing along a “pipeline” from ‘contact to contract’ as it were.  And what we find is that the pipeline can get “blocked”.  You know the sort of thing, for one reason or another you can’t bring yourself to get back in touch with that person and progress the relationship.

Sometimes it’s because people can’t think of a valid reason to do so.  I don’t’ necessarily know that you need a “reason” (as in pretext) if you have left someone with a positive impression and willing to find out more.  If you would like some ideas on how to give value to get value you can find some ideas here.  If thoughtfully done your contact will always appreciate a gesture that is intended to add value.

Then there is the problem of delay.  You had the best of intentions – you had a great conversation at the time but your follow up was poor.  Maybe even non-existent.  Or maybe you had some meetings and then the conversation petered out.  There’s been radio silence for some time.

Often this becomes a major block to a pipeline.  People want to get back in touch but feel awkward that they have left it so long.  Here’s some thoughts that might help overcome any reluctance.

1       We’re only human.  We all get busy, change jobs, move or have lives to deal with.  So forgive yourself.  It was just a lapse and we can all have a lapse every now and again.  Best way to deal with it is to get back on track and get back in touch.  Explain that you’d still like to meet again in spite of the delay.

2       Maybe it’s more than a lapse.  Maybe you said that you would send some information or provide something else.  It doesn’t make the greatest first impression but again – forgive yourself.  Apologise to the person concerned and ask if the information or whatever is still relevant.  If it is you can send it and if it isn’t – at least it won’t hang over you further, and you’ve said sorry.  One can only assume that the information was not so specific or critical that you were not chased for it.

3       Think back to someone you met a while back at some event that you had a great conversation with.  How happy would you be if they contacted you out of the blue and suggested a coffee?  Assuming as mentioned above, that you have left a positive impression with that other person and seem relevant, the door is always open to re-establish contact.

Recently, Helga got back in touch with her mentor from her Clore programme.  Apart from a couple of handwritten notecards with some news, they had not met in four years.  What’s interesting was that the last thing her mentor did as she left was to thank her for re-starting the conversation and asking that it not be so long til their next meeting. Last year in Edinburgh she caught up with some contacts from Brooklyn where she did her placement in 2010.  Travelling to see people and keeping in touch over long periods of time is part of the investment required to cultivate a deep, rich and rewarding network.

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