BreakingModern — You’ve managed to overcome your nerves and start networking. Well done. You’re on your way to making connections that could help you solve problems, introduce you to new ideas and accelerate your career.
Most people attend a networking event, hand out business cards to everyone they speak with and think no more about it. But believe me, you’ll get much more return on your investment of time and energy if you bother to follow up after that networking event. Follow these tips for maximum results.
Take it Online
Talk about the event on social media, mentioning whom you met (and be careful to get their account names correct). Follow your most promising new contacts. Liking, sharing and interacting on social media is a quick way to follow their progress and know what to talk about next time you meet.
Go through all the business cards you collected and enter the details into your contact manager, along with some brief notes about the individuals you talked to and what you talked about. Alternatively, I find that writing notes on the back of the cards and filing them in an envelope marked with the date and occasion brings the notes to mind much quicker when I look at them before the next meeting. You’ll be able to pick up the conversation and people will be amazed how much you remember about them.
Email all the people who seem to be a good match within a day (two days at most), and say how good it was to meet them. Be selective — Is this someone you can really share referrals with, or collaborate with?
Do you include some marketing information about your products and services at this stage? Personally I find this irritating unless I’ve specifically asked for it. You’re still only starting to build a relationship, and being perceived as pushy may be counterproductive, so use your judgment as to what’s appropriate in each case.
Refer to your conversation and if you happen to know of a great article or a useful website that’s related, then send the link. Offering help without the expectation of anything in return will build your network and enhance your reputation.
Take a Meeting
Suggest coffee or lunch if you feel you have enough in common. Have an objective for the meeting. It may be to find out more about their business or simply to check out your instinct about them. Find out what motivates them and what kind of person they are before you even consider working with them in some way.
Building a useful network takes time and patience, and you will meet a few duds along the way. But by following up and qualifying new contacts you will accelerate the process and build a great reputation in your industry.
For BMod, I’m Judy Heminsley.
First/Header image credit: © James Steidl / Dollar Photo Club
Second/Featured image credit: © pathdoc / Dollar Photo Club