You went into a networking event and you killed it! You shook hands, had conversations with ten different people and have a handful of new business cards to show for it. But chances are all of those people you just met won’t remember your name after a day or two. They were all trying to do the same thing – connect with as many people as possible over the course of a couple hours. So how can you make sure you don’t become another business card stuffed into a desk drawer?
If you met people that you would like to work with or stay in touch with, follow up is crucial. Here are three tips for making sure the time you spent at those networking events doesn’t go to waste:
- Leverage your social networks.
A lot of professionals now share their Twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles right on their business cards. Following and connecting with the people you met instantly makes you more memorable and is a great way to stay in touch in case there isn’t an immediate opportunity to work together. Just because you can’t help each other out right away doesn’t mean there won’t be an opportunity to do so in the future.
- Make sure you personalize your follow up.
Say you’ve met a potential new client or employer – you’re going to have do more than send a generic LinkedIn request. Sending a personalized email that let’s someone know you enjoyed meeting them can go a long way. It’s also a great opportunity to suggest a follow-up meeting with a more specific goal. If you’re hoping to land a new job, coordinate an informational interview so you can learn more about the company and they can learn more about you. If you’re hoping to pursue a potential client, schedule a time to get coffee so you can find out what they’re looking for from a PR agency. One-on-one meetings are a great way to get more information and figure out the best ways you can help each other out.
- Speaking of helping each other out…
Nothing cements a relationship like doing a favor for someone. If you promised to send follow-up information or make an introduction, be sure to do it within a few days. Coming through on a favor for someone you met at a networking event makes it more likely they will proactively help you out in return. It will also make it a lot easier to ask for that favor if and when you need it down the road.
Expanding your professional network takes more than just attending events and collecting business cards. It’s all about the next step – whether that’s connecting on LinkedIn, asking for a favor or helping someone out – the next step is where everyone gets value out of their new connections.
Next time you attend an event, don’t forget the follow up.