You’ve attended a networking event, a conference. Now what? You have a pocket full of business cards and no idea what to do with them.
Timing is of the essence when following up with a contact you met at an event. By following up, you solidify the connection and start building your relationship with that person. Following up also gives you a chance to ask a particular question, get more information or arrange a time to call and meet one-on-one.
It’s best to follow up within 24 hours to 48 hours of meeting. Express your appreciation for their time and include details pertaining to the conversation you had. So let’s go over some simple strategies to help you maximize the initial interaction you had with someone.
5 simple and effective networking follow-up strategies
- Tell them how you will be following up
Will you call them in a few days? Will you send them an article? Will you call to set up a lunch date? When you tell them what to expect it makes it real for both of you. You will be more likely to follow up because you told them that you will and they are going to be more receptive to it. The best part is that they will often share the best way for you to follow up and will make it easier for you.
- Schedule a call and/or a meeting
Suggest a 15-minute phone call that will be of mutual benefit – although you’ll want to focus on how the call will help your new peer. Do some research so your contact knows you did your homework and are genuinely interested in seeing how you can help one another. You can mention a conversation from the event or discuss products, services, trends; anything that might benefit your connection. A lunch or breakfast get-together can be just also be valuable.
- Share valuable content
Another great way to follow up is by sharing valuable content. Send an article that represents what you do and/or helps your new contact, not a sales brochure. Ask your contacts if they would like to subscribe to your company’s newsletter to learn more about your products and/or services. Share a resource with them, put them in touch with someone who can be of service to them. Show them that you can bring value. Remember, networking is about giving before getting.
- Touch base regularly
Be sure to remind yourself to reconnect with your contact each month. I suggest you create “reconnect files.” They are handy, color-coded reminders that you can schedule once a month. Include some information about how you met and what you’ve discussed in the notes. When that name pops up each month, reach out to catch up, maybe set up another meeting, or send something that might be valuable, like an invite to another event, a great article or an introduction. When you follow up regularly and share information of value after meeting someone you become someone they trust. You will naturally build a solid relationship and before you know it the cards on your desk will become your best clients and partners. Stay in touch, but don’t overdo it. Too much connecting can kill your efforts.
- Link in on LinkedIn
Since LinkedIn offers so many opportunities to keep your contacts front-of-mind for you (and you to them), what’s the harm in connecting and seeing them pop up in your email on their birthday, when they have a work anniversary, or get a new job? All these are occasions for follow-up.
What’s your plan for following up after your next networking event?
Women’s rights advocate and gender equality specialist, Darine BenAmara has dedicated her career to supporting other women. She is an international speaker, writer and advocate. Darine has significant international experience advancing women in leadership, leading global diversity and inclusion programs and advocating for women at work. Inspired by the many women she met, she designed “The Smart Woman”, an initiative helping women to overcome the challenges of networking and learn how to create smart connections to fulfill their career goals.