Just how long have you been waiting for their call?

“Should I call again?”

I get this question a lot in my workshops on following up after the event. Usually the person who asks has gone to the trouble to call or email someone they met at a business gathering. Basically, they left a message and are waiting for that other person to respond.

And waiting.

And waiting.

Been there? I know I have. So, what should you do about it? Go into full chase mode and call them every week? Write them off as a lost cause?

As with most things, the answer is “It depends”.

If this is someone who’s been a part of your network for a long time and you have an established relationship, then don’t think twice about it. Call them again in a week or a month. Whatever. No reason to throw away a perfectly good relationship after one or even several missed phone calls.

If it goes on for a year or so and they’ve made no additional effort to contact you despite continued effort on your part, then you might put them on the “Birthdays only” rotation.

OK, ignoring that case, what about those people whom you’ve just met? You have no established relationship. You’ve just chatted for five minutes and they said they would welcome your call. What should you do about them?

For me, it may sound a bit mercenary, but my general rule of thumb is basically “What’s in it for me?”

If someone said they wanted to connect or wanted my help, I would make the first call (because they are unlikely to do so). If they don’t get back to me, that tells me they’re probably not ready to network right now. They’re busy in their business, or they already have enough contacts, or they are in some other way distracted. I might follow up about a week afterward with an email — something to the effect of “…just wanted to try to connect with you one more time…” (without the italics), but otherwise I would probably let them go. I know the networking gods will bring us back together at some point if it’s meant to be.

The exception to this is if I found this person particularly interesting, they said they wanted to attend one of my workshops, or they had an idea for a group for me to speak in front of. In that case, I might give them one more call before the “one more time” email.

Here’s the thing: We have to be the guardians of our own calendar. If someone isn’t interested or doesn’t have time for connecting with us, we have to be willing to let them go. To pursue them beyond a call or two is a sign of desperation and is only likely to push them away. Not the direction we want to go.

Besides, desperation isn’t usually a good place to start a business relationship. Far better to come from a place of confidence and self-worth.

You didn’t start networking just so you can beg.

Photo by Stock.xchng user kgreggain