So, you’ve just attended a networking event.
You’ve met new people. You’ve collected business cards. You’ve made connections. Now what? The event is just the beginning. If it ends there, you haven’t maximized its worth. Following up is key when developing a new professional relationship. And you should start within 24 hours of your initial meeting.
Start with Correspondence
Sending an email to simply reiterate you enjoyed meeting your new contact is a great place to start. You may want to mention some conversation you shared at the event. It might help the person place you. Perhaps you talked about getting together for coffee or lunch. You can begin setting up that future appointment here, too. Remember to read over your correspondence before sending to make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. First impressions are important.
Some other things you may want to consider when following up after a meeting, include:
Offer Before Asking
When making a new connection, it is always a good idea to offer help before asking for a favor. If there is any way you can help the contact, do so (perhaps you had offered to connect him or her with someone, showed interest in helping with a nonprofit they are involved with, or something similar).
Connect on LinkedIn
This can further strengthen your professional relationship. Later, when your professional relationship progresses, you might ask the person for a LinkedIn recommendation to strengthen your profile.
Sweat what May be Considered Small Stuff
If you’re connected on social media platforms, you’ll likely be notified of such special occasions as birthdays, work anniversaries and the like. Be sure to acknowledge them. Small gestures go a long way in showing you care. You might even want to take time to send a personalized hand-written note or card.
Make a 1-on-1 a Priority
Be sure to schedule a face-to-face meeting and let the other person know what you’re looking to accomplish prior so he or she can come prepared. Consider the location: you should at least meet the other person half-way, or somewhere closer to him or her. Also look for a spot conducive to conversation.
Follow these five pieces of advice and you’re well on your way to developing a beneficial professional network.
Nikki Murry is editor of Berks County Living magazine and a freelance writer, editor, proofreader and blogger. In her free time she is an active dog rescue volunteer and enjoys spending time with her 15-year-old son, Riley, and her three dogs: Buddha and Shelly, French Bulldogs, and Bruno, a Boston Terrier.