I Attended a Networking Event…Now What? : Under30CEO I Attended a Networking Event…Now What? : Under30CEO
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I Attended a Networking Event…Now What?

| June 16, 2010 | 14 Comments

business cardsYou already understand the importance of networking for growing your business. So, you’ve attended a handful of networking events, met some interesting people, and acquired a handful of business cards. Now what?

Follow up!

If you wait for your new contacts to reach out to you, you’re leaving your business growth to chance. They might misplace your card. Or you might simply slip off their radar – after all, they’re busy too. Therefore, you should proactively contact them.

How do you follow up with a new contact you barely know without coming across as aggressive or awkward? The five suggestions below can help.

1. Write on the back of each business card, noting the date and event where you met the person. Jot down any noteworthy personal information the contact shared with you (e.g., family, interests, business challenges, etc.). Mentioning these details will help you reestablish rapport with someone later.

2. Connect with new contacts on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. This is an easy, unimposing way to stay within reach of someone. Viewing a person’s profile or past tweets can offer insight into interests, recent accomplishments, and business needs. These can serve as personable conversation starters and help you identify ways that your products or services can meet that person’s needs.

3. Send an interesting article, based on what you know about a contact’s business needs, industry trends, or other interests. This can effectively position you as a valuable resource and give you something to discuss the next time you’re in touch. It works especially well if the article addresses something you two discussed when you initially met or if it indirectly promotes something your business offers.

4. Offer to take a new contact out for coffee. One-on-one time together can help solidify a relationship and inspire candid conversation. Taking the steps above will ensure you have something to talk about. Additionally, the great thing about a coffee meeting is its flexibility – if the conversation is thriving, you can linger in a café as long as you want; if the interaction is bumpy, you can limit it to a brief outing.

5. Seek out previous contacts at future networking events. Many of the same people often attend various events within an area, so your chances of running into them again are good. While you should continue to connect with new people, make sure to also reconnect with previous contacts to strengthen and maintain those relationships. Introducing your existing contacts to others at an event can enhance your image as a valuable resource and earn you bonus points.

Of course, as with any business activity, networking and follow up should be outcome-oriented. While you must be careful not to jump into a sales pitch or a request for referrals too quickly, it’s also critical not to lose sight of that aim. Listening to contacts and referring back to what they’ve told you can help you build rapport. Establishing yourself as a valuable resource can help you build credibility. And these elements, along with diligent follow up, are among the building blocks of a productive business relationship.

Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She writes articles on topics related to training and business for print and online publications. Shelley has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. For more information, visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

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  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Great article. One item that I would add is try to connect your new contact with an existing contact that might be able to help them. This establishes you as a “Connector” and someone who will go out of their way to help.

    Thanks,

    Ryan H., http://www.RyanHanley.com

  • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

    Shelley,
    Great tips. I especially liked the one about writing on the back of the cards. I use Evernote on my phone to snap a pic of the card and the person's face. Then, it's already in my notes when I get home.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    That is a great tool. All to often I have left an event with cards and then never documented the contacts anywhere. I'm sure I have lost some valuable connections in the process.

  • http://shelleygable.wordpress.com/ Shelley Gable

    I agree completely. I know I certainly appreciate being introduced to others…it's much easier than approaching someone myself. =) Thanks!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Interesting idea–I actually asked a very successful networker the other day how he solidifies these relationships after he meets people. He actually suggested doing a quick flip cam video with them and sending it or posting it somewhere. Nobody will forget you if you asked to take their picture.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I agree Ryan–at events I really like asking people who they can introduce me to especially if I've never been part of the group before.

    Don't forget networking is all abou twhat you can provide the people you meet. What comes around goes around. You have to give to get.

  • http://shelleygable.wordpress.com/ Shelley Gable

    I agree completely. I know I certainly appreciate being introduced to others…it's much easier than approaching someone myself. =) Thanks!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Interesting idea–I actually asked a very successful networker the other day how he solidifies these relationships after he meets people. He actually suggested doing a quick flip cam video with them and sending it or posting it somewhere. Nobody will forget you if you asked to take their picture.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I agree Ryan–at events I really like asking people who they can introduce me to especially if I've never been part of the group before.

    Don't forget networking is all abou twhat you can provide the people you meet. What comes around goes around. You have to give to get.

  • Pingback: I Attended a Networking Event…Now What? « Shelley A. Gable

  • http://www.belladomain.com SandyJK

    Great tips on follow-up Shelley! I'm also a big fan of writing notes and needs on the back of the biz cards I receive. I also wanted to share a few more tips regarding getting the most out of networking events from a blog post I wrote earlier this year:

    1) Don’t take networking too seriously. It can and should be fun. Connect with the intention of helping others rather than simply expecting to find the elusive perfect job or client. Relax, take the pressure off yourself and focus on what you can bring to the party or offer in the form of contacts, knowledge or resources.

    2) Improve your outlook and your fortune will change. If you have a negative outlook on networking, you’re probably sabotaging your chances at connecting with the “right” people. Put all the negative or disappointing encounters behind you and focus on “what’s possible.” As Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

    3) Take a proactive approach and get off the couch or out from behind your screen and get out there! Remember, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” You eventually have to meet people to know if you’ll really connect with them, and the more people you meet, the more likely you are to find the “right” people for you. (It’s almost like dating, isn’t it?)

    4) Keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum if you’re at an event where it’s being served. Being relaxed is good, but having your buzz on and then acting inappropriately is not a good way to be memorable at any event. A phrase that comes to mind here is “The more I drink, the cuter you get.” Yikes! Do I really need to say more here?

    5) Be the person to include others into the conversation when they join the circle. What a great way to create a good impression and set an example for others. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

    6) Be polite and considerate. Good manners never go out of style. Leave your ego in the restroom after you’ve checked your appearance (make sure there are no traces of your lunch in your teeth) and also leave the office politics at the office. A networking event is a time to be non-competitive and social in a professional yet friendly way.

    7) Be sincere, open and follow through on your commitments. Authenticity leaves a lasting impression, and even if you don’t find a way to assist each other immediately, you never know when someone might introduce you to a key new contact down the road.

    I cover a lot of this in my book, “I'm at a Networking Event–Now What???” and hope this helps to motivate others to keep developing their networking muscle! Here's the link to the original post too:

    http://belladomain.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/7-s

    Sandy Jones-Kaminski, Author
    I'm at a Networking Event–Now What???: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Any Networking Event
    http://amzn.com/1600051669

  • Pingback: Article Reposted: I Attended a Networking Event…Now What? « Shelley A. Gable

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    I write a hand-written note to every person I had a meaningful conversation with and send it to them through the regular mail. I have gotten a good response from this. People appreciate you taking the time to communicate with them in a personal way.

    Best Wishes to All in 2011!

    Ryan H.