You made it through the scary networking event. You weren’t the creepy guy who says two sentences and hands a business card to everyone in the room. You had three solid conversations with people you had targeted before the event. You made a few notes about each of them after the conversation. You have their contact information.
- If you agreed to send information, do so right away. Usually, this is in the form of an email for convenience. Include your thanks for the conversation and mention that you enjoyed talking with them.
- If you don’t owe them any information, send an email acknowledging the meeting. You can ask a question at this point or show interest in something they said to keep the conversation moving.
- Alternatively, you can send a hand-written note with a business card enclosed. The intent is the same, to thank them for their conversation and to further the relationship.
Now comes the tricky part because that’s often where the exchange ends. Most people don’t understand this as an ongoing conversation. Most people don’t have a network they can turn to in an emergency (like a sudden job search). Most people end up wishing they did.
That is why it is important to start now. If you aren’t in the habit of adding people you meet to your contact list, do it. If you don’t normally follow up with an email or note, form the habit. If you aren’t accustomed to answering emails from people you just met, set aside a bit of time for it.
So, you’ve emailed a post-event note to someone you’ve just met, and you don’t hear back from them. That’s OK. Put them on the calendar for another email a week later. In the meantime, watch for articles that would interest them. What do you have in common? Who do you both know? Is there something you know that they want to learn? Find ways to offer help every week or so. Ask them to go for coffee and a conversation.
Most people enjoy attention. When you show you’re interested in someone, the interest is often returned. Taking the first step can be difficult but often worthwhile.
If your networking attempts aren’t working out like you want them to, contact me today to talk about what is going wrong and what we can do about it.
Image courtesy Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.