What I want to bring up today for discussion is one of the most important steps in networking: showing appreciation.
I am a big appreciation fan. I think appreciation should be shown every day at every opportunity. It is a feel-good all the way around – it makes you feel good and the other person and it take so little effort.
The last time I spent the weekend with my best friend we went out for dinner and drinks the first night I arrived. It was a Friday night and I had just driven 5 hours after working in the morning and she had a full day so we were both a little frayed.
Our waiter was awesome: genuinely friendly, attentive without hovering and when the place started getting more crowded he sowed the same care and attentiveness to every table without missing a beat.
We asked a waitress to ask the manager to come to our table. Of course, we knew what this poor guy was going to think having us call the manager – first thoughts: “What did I do?” And that manager was expecting it – you could just read it all over his body language.
Instead, we both gave genuine appreciation for our waiter. The manager was really taken back and said no one ever calls him to tell him good things. He said he was going to write this up and put it on the employee board for all the staff to see. He also said our guy was brand new so it was a very kind thing for us to do.
We of course told our waiter we thought he was doing a good job, but we also knew that in the service industry these things never get said to management. That is why we felt it was the right thing to do.
I’ve had a talk with my son a few times about communication. He and I text a lot, it is our normal method of communication. I am ok with it because he knows if I need to talk about something, I will call. Thanking me for something is normally done via text.
His father, on the other hand, doesn’t like to be texted for thank yous. He prefers a call. Our son doesn’t understand why he can’t just text him since he texts me and it is ok. I told him because we are different, it isn’t his to understand why, just know that it is important and more meaningful if he makes a call to his dad.
It is the same concept, but the delivery is different and that is the distinction. That is what is important.
When someone refers a client to me if they send me an email I immediately email them back and thank them and tell them I will keep them in the loop. If the client decides to engage me then I send them another email and let them know and again give my appreciation.
I also like to follow up with a thank you card.
It is important to me that I take a couple extra steps to let them know that I appreciate them thinking of me and thinking enough of me to refer someone they know. After all, my professionalism it is a reflection on them as well for referring me. I take this seriously.
When networking please remember that it is not expected that everyone will do something for you. If they do, by giving you a contact, referral or tip it is important to thank them.
But that is what networking is about, you might be thinking – sharing of information, helping each other out.
Yes it is, however, it is also not a given. And one way to build a very bad reputation and have all your contacts evaporate before your eyes is to either treat the referral badly or show no appreciation for them taking the time to think of you.
They took time out of their day to make the connection and reach out to you. The least you can do is say thank you. Their time is just as valuable as yours and it should be acknowledged.
Choose your method according to your audience, your relationship and professional bound – but no matter what you choose – just do it!
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW