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How To Follow Up After a Networking Meeting or Networking Event
There are a multitude of ways and means for follow up with people you meet at networking events and networking meetings. I’ve learned through painful experience that if you don’t have a proper follow up schedule and process, the impetus you gain at a meeting or the value of new connections quickly dissipates.
I’ve tried out various formats and systems, so I’m sharing my process with you today. As I go through the blog, I’ll share with you, ‘the why’ behind what I do, so I hope this resonates with you.
You’ll find your own flow, depending on your industry, your ease with technology and of course, how much time you have available.
Tip: Make your networking follow up a part of your default diary. Schedule it in to your online diary and wrap all your other meetings, obligations and work around it. It requires discipline, but will be worth it in the long run, I promise!
What I will also say is that you should ease yourself into this. Perhaps start with Linkedin and get into the habit of connecting with the people you have met in person or online. Then start building up on some of the other points. If you schedule 30 minutes in your diary for networking follow up, it will help alleviate the overwhelm and make sure you are learning to network effectively.
Here are my 10 steps for following up effectively:
1. Pen and Paper
You’ll see me write, time after time; – always have a pen and pad with you.
No matter what event you are going to – you’ll always come out with some inspired thought, a great new contact, a new blog post idea or questions to find answers to when you get back to the office! Ultimately, you should leave inspired, so don’t lose the ‘light bulb’ moments – write down your thoughts as soon as possible. As I often say, if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.
The reason I follow this process is – as a woman with a large handbag, I was collecting business cards at quite a rate, because I went to so many events. I didn’t have a systematic follow up system to manage my new network contacts and I was accumulating the cards.
By the time I got to the follow up, I couldn’t recall where I had met some people and why I wanted to connect with them. I just realised that this was disrespectful to me and my time, but also to my new found connections. It didn’t justify or qualify my time spent networking, so I developed my process.
This follows for our online networking events. Write down interesting points on people that you can refer to for the rest of your follow up.
2. Business Cards
Always write where you met the person on the card. If they are a visitor at a member event, then I write ‘visitor at XYZ networking event’ or if they are a member of a multi-group network (also known as chapters), I write which network and which chapter/group the person belongs to.
Tip: Black cards, although nice to look at, diminish the opportunity for people to connect with you afterwards, unless they are super efficient and have a great memory. The same applies for laminated and gloss cards – they are impossible to write on.
Tip: When you are getting your business card designed, make sure to leave space for people to write notes on your business card.
Although, we aren’t swapping business cards during #Covid19, it’s likely the the majority of you networking is online. You can take a screen grab of the people that are on the call or jot down the people that are new to you or visitors, on your trusty pad!
3. Write It Down
4. Business Card Holder
When I started my networking journey, I used to connect with people digitally, i.e. via social media channels – predominantly Linkedin and email and then I’d ditch the business cards in the bin (trash).
However, the more I networked, the more people I met, which is great in itself…until someone asked me if I knew someone that I could refer in to a business or who could solve a specific problem.
If a lot of time had passed, I remembered (and I’ve a good memory), the gender of the person. But that’s not very useful when you are trying to search out someone on Linkedin or on email. (I’ll make a note here, that this applies to people that I haven’t developed an in-depth relationship with, but who I know offer a service/product that will help a fellow networker.)
As good as Linkedin is, it can’t do recall on the basis of gender only, e.g. Dear Linkedin, I can’t remember the name of the person or the company name, but I know I met them at a networking event.’ …
So I needed a better system. I went back to a good old fashioned business card holder. An A4 ring binder folder with plenty of business card inserts and a set of alphabetised dividers. Now I file the business cards and hold a physical file. This is invaluable and I’ll explain more on this later.
5. Social Media – LinkedIn
This is one of my digital connection points. I make a point of connnecting with everyone on Linkedin (where possible, i.e. they have a profile). I do not simply press ‘connect’, but rather I write a bespoke note per person to say where I met them. This is an invaluable tip. This is my digital rolodex where I have a log of where I met the person and I can refer back to this message.
On the desktop Linkedin, this is a mandatory prompt, but not so if you are connecting with someone on your phone. Look at personalising the message.
It takes about 15/20 seconds and it’s going to avoid this happening – you know when someone asks you to connect you in or refer you in to someone who’s in your Linkedin connections? You look at your connections and think to yourself: ‘I’ve no idea who that person is’. Not anymore. All those bespoke messages that you personalise to your new connections, create a log and stay as an aide memoire for when you need or are ready to pick back up on the conversation. It’s awesome.
Tip: When you are connecting with someone on Linkedin via the app, do a search on the person’s profile and it’ll offer you the chance to connect. There are three vertical dots, press these and another menu of options will appear. One is ‘personalize invite’. Press this and you’ll be brought to a box to add your personalised message. Use this option!!
Tip: Make sure you have the Linkedin app on your phone. It’s fantastic for quick updates, posts, comments, and for making sure you are up to date on all your connections and you are keeping yourself top of mind with your networking community.
You can read more tips on how to maximise your Linkedin profile here.
6. Social Media – Other Channels
A key element of building a relationship and trust with a fellow networker is the ability to ‘listen’, both in person at the 1-2-1s, but also online. I try to link in with a person’s social media profiles, based on the channels I’m on, so for me that’s Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Supporting posts with a like, a comment, a share, is a great way to build the digital connection which is part of building and nurturing relationships in this day and age.
Tip: Connect in on the professional, i.e. company profiles, and the personal profiles. This will keep you updated on what is happening your fellow networker’s business and you’ll get to know their interests, achievements, their tone of voice and more. This can really help when you meet people at the next networking event, as you have content for your conversation.
7. Email Connections
I always try to email my new connections with a short email of ‘hello’ and a ‘nice to have met you at XYZ event’. We can’t spend our time meeting everyone, but if I feel there is a relationship that is worth developing further, I will reach out for a 1-2-1 so I can connect and find out more about the person and their business. This affords me the opportunity to see how I can help.
Furthermore, as I do a lot of networking, if I feel someone would be a good fit to visit other networks, I try to invite these people in, with a view to helping them spread and widen their own networks. This helps them reach businesses in new geographies or connect with people that they wouldn’t ordinarily connect with.
8. Be Correct
9. 1-2-1s – Be Targetted
If you’ve offered to make an introduction to someone or to a business after the networking event or networking meeting, make sure to follow through. This is a critical point in the relationship and one where all the trust will stem and be built upon.
Discipline is key. Developing your own follow up strategy is key.
These are all skills and observations I’ve made, having dropped the ball many times, but each time I’ve learned a new hack or realised that I simply needed to get a system in place to manage myself.
Otherwise there was no point in just collecting cards and attending the networking events. I hope these points are helpful and would love to hear any other tips that you have and that help you with your post networking follow up activities.
Connecting With NetworkingJeanie
You can reach out to me at email@example.com.
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