So you’ve attended a networking event, got a couple business cards or added some people on LinkedIn… now what? The art of the follow-up is almost as important (if not more so) than the art of networking itself! After all, if you can’t follow-up, then what’s the point of networking in the first place?
I’ve compiled some quick tips for you to help make following up not so scary.
Write down a note with key information after talking to them
Often after having a conversation with someone (particularly if you’re nervous) you may not retain much information, so write up a little cheat sheet with the person’s name, job title/role, and some unique pieces of information you spoke about that you can remember. This’ll help when you reach step 2 of this guide.
Send them an email or LinkedIn message (don’t leave this too late)
Now, it’s important to personalise each one with something interesting that you took away from your chat with them at the event – something like “I found your story about ____ so interesting! I’d love to hear more about how you’ve gotten to where you are today”. Remember to thank them for their time, it’s that simple! Make sure that you follow-up in their preferred way (ask when you’re speaking to them if you can email them, or if they’d prefer a LinkedIn message)
Create ‘reconnect files’ – Forbes suggests… (hyperlink article)
According to this Forbes article, ‘reconnect files’ are colour-coded, scheduled monthly reminders to remind you to reach out to your contacts. They should include some brief information about what you’ve discussed in the past, and should prompt you to invite them to something, catch up again, or even just send them a message to say hi and let them know you haven’t forgotten about them!
Set up a one-on-one meeting
Setting up a one-on-one meeting/coffee/lunch etc can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! When asking, make sure you be assertive (but not forceful) and suggest an initial day to meet. For example “How does your schedule look next Wednesday to grab a coffee or lunch and talk some more?” instead of “let me know when you’re available”. Before you get to the meeting, make sure you do your research so you have some interesting questions to ask them. Not only does it show you’re interested in them and their career journey, but also that you can be proactive.
Show a genuine interest in them, and don’t expect anything in return
People like when others find them genuinely interesting and want to know more about them, right? So show your new professional contacts that! Don’t go into a one-on-one meeting expecting to get a job, view it as a learning experience. However, if they’ve advertised a job or this is something you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to ask them about it! Always remember to talk about them first, then you last (unless they ask, of course).
Good luck and happy networking!
If you’d like to read more great tips, have a look at these great articles: