How to Follow-Up after Networking
Networking is an important part of building a business. The right person could drastically change the direction your business is going. So, how do you effectively follow-up after networking?
Before we get started, let’s take a minute to talk about the purpose of this follow-up. To be effective, you really need to be in the mind-set that you are networking for the purpose of sharing. As in: you sharing with them. Do not have expectations that they will share with you. Use your position and influence to give to them generously. Empower others. If you get something in return, yay! If you don’t, at least you were able to aid someone. If nothing else, you at least gained favor in her/his eyes. Think win-win.
The 5 Step Plan for an Effective Follow-up After Networking
1. Prep for the Follow-up
So, you are doing your networking thing and meeting lots of incredibly interesting people. You’ve made a smashing impression on each person. Now what? Well, you’ve got to be sure you can keep all your new connections straight. So as soon as you possibly can, write down notes (perhaps on the back of each business card) about the people you have just met. Include as much detail as you can without leaving out the personal life details (ie. kids’ names, pet, favorite hobby, etc.). You never know when the little details will matter, and they are great for spurring on a personal connection.
2a. The Immediate Follow-up (Normal Route)
In our networking tips blog, we talk about the importance of being memorable and how to effectively execute being memorable. You want to keep this going even after the networking event is over. An immediate follow-up is a great way to jog someone’s memory and stay relevant in their mind. It is also just a polite thing to do! So within the next 24 hours, come up with a stellar follow-up email to send to your new connection. This email should be free of all grammatical and mechanical errors and should have no spelling mistakes. That would be just awfel! Don’t put any abbreviations like LOL or OMG either. You may be communicating over the internet, but that doesn’t make those appropriate.
To actually craft your email, think back on the conversation that you had. (Look at those handy notes you took!) Now, find something valuable to say. A great way to go about doing this is to reference a portion of the conversation that was interesting to you. (Bonus: it helps jog that person’s memory of who you are!) If you mostly talked about non-work related topics, reference something in their personal life that is relevant. (Example: “Wishing you luck as your daughter continues driver’s ed.”) If that doesn’t seem appropriate either, simply thank them for the wonderful time you had chatting.
Example of an Effective Follow-Up to Get you Started
Hello Jane Doe:
It was so great to meet you yesterday. I appreciate you taking the time to break down some SEO principles for me. I would love to continue our conversation if you are available. I could meet at any point on Thursday after 2pm. Let me know if this works for you.
Have a wonderful day.
This is a great email to send because it covers all the important points.
- Thank the person for her/his time.
- Reference topic of interest.
- Leave a call to action.
- Include your availability to proactively decrease the length of the email thread.
- End with good will.
2b. The Immediate Follow-Up (Accelerated Route)
If you met someone that you want to start working with professionally in the very, very near future, you may want to take the fast train to a professional friendship. Keep in mind all the clean email rules, but change your message to fit your needs.
To jump right into the power of your connection, offer support or advice immediately in your follow-up email. This should be done with extreme care as offering unsolicited advice can be awkward if not done correctly. Remember to be respectful and not to belittle the person or her/his career. This sounds obvious enough, but seriously look over that email with a critical eye before you send it so that nothing in it comes across as passive aggressive or condescending.
If you aren’t sure how to go about creating content for this email, here are a few things you can include. (Remember that your message should be tailored specifically to each individual with whom you are communicating. Be Personal, Personable, and Personalizable.)
- Useful, relevant data
- Results from a professional survey
- Opinions from casual interviews or conversations
- Offer for advice or help
- Offer for connecting her/him with someone you know
- Invitation to an upcoming event
3. Connect on Social Media
LinkedIn is a powerful networking platform that is just fantastic for keeping up with your network. Do your best to connect with your new contact within 48 hours. Once connected, you will be able to keep up with their professional life, and they will be able to keep up with yours. You will be at the top of their mind every time you post something, so you won’t have to worry about staying relevant.
4. The In-Person Follow-Up
The “Accelerated” Follow-Up has some great in-person follow-up ideas, and any one of those would be a great choice for the in-person follow-up. (How many times can you squeeze “follow-up” into one sentence? Yikes!) Find something you both would enjoy venturing to (even if it just be a coffee shop) and meet up! Face-to-face conversations are becoming so much more rare, but they are so powerful and necessary when building relationships. Make them a priority in your professional life.
5. Create a Continued Follow-Up Plan
It is not enough to reconnect with your new network member just once. If you want to build on your relationship with that person, you are going to have to consistently maintain a relationship. Figure out how often you want to reconnect with that person and make an active plan. If your first meet-up was incredibly fruitful for both of you, you may want to meet up as often as every two to three weeks. If you each had a good time but are too busy for that sort of commitment, then maybe you will only reconnect with her/him every six months over email. Gauge the situation and act accordingly.
This follow-up plan not only helps you show your politeness and timeliness, but it puts you onto the road for long-lasting personal connections.
If you have any questions about networking, follow-ups or marketing, reach out to us. We are happy to help.
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