Woody Allen, the American director, actor and comedian, once said, “80% of success is showing up.” This line has been repeated so often that it is now commonly thought of as being fact. But then again, who has said it isn’t fact? Mr. Allen may have taken this statistic from substantiated research. It may have come directly from the pages of the Harvard Business Review.

It may have, but it didn’t
It may have come from a bona fide source, but I’ll stake all that I own on the fact that it didn’t. It couldn’t have. It defies logic. Just showing up is crucial, but it takes more than an appearance to secure business, let alone be successful at it. I’d like to turn to Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Business Network International), in order to explain.

Dr. Misner trademarked a term that addresses this: Visibility + Credibility = Profitability or VCP for short. This refers to the fact that visibility alone does not, in the vast majority of cases, lead to profitability. Simply being seen does not provide your target audience with the confidence to hire or refer you. If it did, all you would have to do is show up at functions, approach others, hand them your business card, and then walk away. I’m sure you have witnessed people who actually do this. Would you do business with these people? I wouldn’t. Would you refer them to your best client? I wouldn’t. Do you think these people are profitable? I don’t.

So there you have it -- just showing up is not responsible for 80% of your success. There is more to it than that. I believe that only 20% of success is showing up. Indeed, 80% of success is follow-through.

Follow-through is the key
The fact that you meet someone does not mean they will buy from you or they will refer you to others. In fact, without further developing the relationship, it means little more than having another business card to put in your desk draw. And once they are in your drawer, you have lost your opportunity to effectively follow through. Sure, you may in fact follow through at a later time, but it doesn’t offer the same degree of effectiveness as when done immediately.

So how are you going to follow though in a way that makes you stand out from others? The way I suggest is to handwrite a card. The fact that you send a card instead of sending off a brief e-mail immediately sets you apart. And the fact that it is handwritten is even more significant. I once read that on 5% of businesspeople consistently handwrite cards. Be one of them and enjoy the dividends.

Another suggestion is to mention something in particular from your meeting the other person. It could be a topic of discussion. Perhaps it’s the fact that you complimented his tie. Whatever it may be, it provides the other person a way to quickly remember exactly who you are.

Follow though vs. Follow up
You may have noticed that I use the phrase “follow though,” instead of “follow up.” This is with intent, and I believe it makes a difference. “Follow up” has the connotation of being a separate act. This leads many people to believe that as long as they have done the first part well, then the second one is not necessarily required. However, the phrase “follow through” provides the connotation that it is the completion of the first act. Consequently, going without it causes the first act to be less effective.

Following through is much like a pitcher or quarterback following through. You often hear commentators say that a ball was thrown high because the pitcher or quarterback did not follow through. The same holds true for a golfer. The proper alignment, stance, grip, backswing, and downswing can all be wasted when followed by a poor follow through.

Following through as opposed to following up is a mindset, but it is an important mindset – one that supports my theory that 20% of success is showing up and 80% is following through.

Build credibility. Build relationships.
Following through does not stop with sending a card. In fact, proper follow-through with prospects, clients, and valued business associates never stops. It is an ongoing process. It is about staying in touch with them – often in a way that keeps you connected without overtly selling. It is about connecting them with others who may benefit them. It is about finding business opportunities and referrals for them without asking for anything in return. It is about, as Dr. Misner would suggest, building credibility. In actuality, it is about building strong, meaningful relationships.

So, here is my last piece of advice. If you want to make a movie, you should definitely turn to Woody Allen for direction. But if you want to be visible, develop your credibility, and build a profitable business, be certain to consistently follow through.

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of 101 Ways to Attract More Clients at =>