Making sure you follow up after a business networking event is one of the most important steps in making reliable and genuine connections. You may meet some great potential contacts, but if you fail to secure any follow up, it will mean you've wasted a lot of time and effort.
So how should you follow up after a business networking event? Luke Cunliffe, networking trainer, gives us his top tips on how to get this vital step done right.
Arrange further contact at the event
Ask them which day is good to give them a call or email, and say you'd love to meet for a coffee some time to continue your conversation. This way, you're establishing a secure follow up. Otherwise you may send an email a few days later only to find out that they went on holiday for two weeks, and you missed an opportunity to liase with them before they went.
Make sure you follow up quickly
The person you want to chat to may have been to 10 other events since they met you, so by leaving it too long you're increasing the chances of being forgotten. Make sure to remind them where you met and what you were talking about.
Here's an example email to give you a general idea of how such a networking lead should be followed up:
In your follow up email or phone call, don't leave things open-ended. For example, saying 'I hope to hear from you soon,' or 'Let me know when you're free!' is vague, and nothing may get arranged as you've left it in their hands. By giving a date and time for a meet-up or phone call, you're more likely to succeed in furthering your relationship with this contact.
You may not need to meet up with them physically ever again; indeed, I have had a networking contact of 10 years and we have only met a couple of times, but kept in contact in other ways. Sending a helpful email with an article on something that may interest them is another way of doing this, and they'll remember you as a useful contact, allowing you to strengthen that relationship even further.
Use LinkedIn to your advantage
Connect with them on LinkedIn. This way you'll ensure that you're more likely to be in their mind should they ever need your services, as well as giving you a platform to build your own personal brand. For example, if you are a copywriter, sharing your posts and articles on LinkedIn will give your new contacts a first-hand sample of your skills, as well as allowing you to build a portfolio of your work online.
If people you don't know try to connect with you, you should send them a message thanking them for their interest in your profile and ask if there's anything you can do for them. I have actually created business this way, and found once again building relationships via networking a constant and useful resource in finding work.
Check out the rest of the blogs from this series:
A guide to business networking for beginners or introverts
How to dress for a business networking event - men
How to dress for a business networking event - women
Practical tips: How to introduce yourself at a networking event
Business Networking: Tips and examples for successful conversations