Note: This is an adapted and updated version of my post from December 2014
Okay. So you went through the process of going to a networking event, and you picked up some cards. And I mean a mess of them, right? But it wasn’t enough just to shake hands and introduce yourself. Now it’s time to follow up. What are you going to do with those cards?
When I speak to people about effective networking I like to emphasize that reminding people of who you are, and following up with another meeting (if the connection looks fruitful), is the key to reaping the rewards of networking.
Here are some easy steps to consider every time you get those cards from a successful networking experience:
1) Take notes on each card. You will have an easier time remembering who you spoke to, and the subject matter, if you take notes. So, it stands to reason you should always have a pen with you at a networking event. Jot a note such as: “spoke about hiking,” or “good client lead.”
2) Take some time to enter their info into a database. Some applications exist, such as CardMunch, that can make this process easier. Some people like to simply enter by hand into their own custom database.
3) Send an e-mail and connect on LinkedIn. I find that if I take a few minutes after en event, or the day later, to reach out and connect with someone I met, that the building of a relationship happens organically. Not every connection is worth fostering of course, but better to reach out to 10 different people, finding that 2-3 become meaningful business connections, rather than just letting the cards sit on your desk and waiting for others to reach out to you.
As an example of an e-mail you can send to follow up, here are some e-mail templates I like to use to connect with someone:
It was great meeting you at ____ event. I really enjoyed our discussion about _________. I’d like to see if we can connect for coffee sometime soon. I’ll suggest the week of ______ but let me know what works for you. When can I follow up?
It was great having the chance to see you at ______ event. You probably don’t remember me as you were mobbed by so many people, but I really enjoyed our brief conversation. I really like the work you do, and was hoping to pick you brain when you have a moment,
I’d like to see if we can connect for coffee sometime soon. I’ll suggest the week of ______ but let me know what works for you. When can I follow up?
You’ll notice in each of these e-mails you are asking an open ended question so that there is more likelihood of a response. No matter what e-mail you send, be sure to always leave an open thread. It won’t always work, but it’s better then leaving with: “great meeting you.”
4) Circle back. Not everyone will respond to you, and that is okay. Some people get busy, some don’t want to be bothered, but after e-mailing the evening or day after an event, circle back in about a week to see if you can try and make a connection. There are some great applications that can manage that relationship. Once favorite of Google App users is Boomerang, but there are many others out there.
Update!: 5) Integrate with a CRM tool. I have had fortune recently of working with a few different tools for managing relationships. I ran across this great article about some great tools out there. I leave it to you to decide which to use. I am loving RelateIQ.
How do you like to follow up? Let us know!