As we continue talking about the basics of networking, let’s touch upon a very important subject: a follow-up. After attending a networking event, talking and listening, sharing your e-business cards with 100AM app and having a great time, comes a crucial part of the networking: the follow-up. A lot of people forget about this, don’t be one of them. This is where the real work starts.
Business networking is there to get people connected, not to shake hands on a deal immediately (even though that may happen). People exchange information, pick each other’s interests and decide if there is a reason to set up for more meaningful conversation and continue to work together. None of this will happen without a proper follow-up. The information gets lost and people carry on with other things they consider more important. Don’t let the chance of building a new business relationship slip away. It is the main reason you network in the first place. Once it’s clear that there are mutual benefits of getting in touch on a certain matter, prepare to follow up.
The follow-up must happen in a timely manner. Period. If a follow-up email is sent a month after the meeting, no one will remember you and the opportunity will be lost. The rule of thumb is to follow up on the next business day (!). If you met on Friday night there is no need to rush to the computer Saturday morning pushing away your family and weekend plans. It is ok to wait until Monday, but make sure to put it on your agenda.
In the follow-up email remind the person where you met and what you have talked about, thank them for their time and define the next step. Make the contact feel indispensable. Clearly set up the next step: a phone call or in-person meeting, agenda, questions, proposal details, etc. Anything to move things along smoothly. This is a brief yet helpful way to carry the conversation on into work mode.
Not all the conversations you had during a networking event will result in a business relationship but it is within your power to follow up with everyone right away. That gives you the control of the situation and understanding that you’ve done everything possible to keep the relationship alive and thriving.