There are networking opportunities everywhere around you. The opportunities to expand and grow your business can either be at a planned function or even chatting with someone on your commute. You need to make the most of every opportunity because you never know who you might meet.
A networking event or encounter is just the foundation for starting a new professional relationship. It is imperative to realise that your follow-up after the event is the key to developing the relationship. In an age where contact information is so readily available, there are no excuses not to follow up.
Following up after your initial encounter is an art more than a science. There is not one best technique nor one right way. It is not easy to approach people who you might have spoken with for only a few minutes before exchanging business cards and moving on. The following tips will assist you in creating a follow up system that works for you.
Pick your connections wisely
Do not contact all the people you met while networking. Be smart about who you approach after the event. Bombarding all the people you met with e-mails or calls can create the wrong impression and come across as spam. You should have a one-on-one meaningful conversation with someone before following up with them.
Follow up in time
Take the contact details you received while networking and send your connection an e-mail. Try to follow up in within a few days to a week after meeting. Do not wait too long. It is easy to forget people and the details of your discussion. Your communication does not have to be long or formal, but you need to get the ball rolling.
Use social media
Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn by including a personal note mentioning the where and how you met. Social Media is great way to create and maintain top-of-mind awareness. Follow a business on Facebook, but avoid connecting on personal profiles. This can sometimes become too invasive.
Have attention to detail
Set reminders to follow up every few weeks or months after the initial meeting. Reach out to set-up another meeting, or send something that might be appreciated by your connection (another invite or interesting article). If you happen to know his or her birthday, send a message. These small gestures will stand you in good stead.
Give more than you take
It is essential to seek out opportunities in which you can help someone with a need they have. Take the lead and expect nothing in return. Your reputation as someone who is willing to help others will grow. People will be attracted to you and will want to help you in return.
Meet in person
Before you set up a meeting, be clear about your intentions in advance. This will help you and your connection to prepare for the get-together. Choose a location that is convenient and easily accessible for the other person. The meeting will further develop your relationship with your contact. Rather let them ask questions about you and your business than you forcing information on them.
Use connections to connect
Every connection you meet also interacts with numerous other people and businesses. This makes the power of your conversation exponential. Remember that when you are talking to someone, you are actually speaking to their entire network.
Making new connections and expanding your network is extremely important no matter what phase of your career you are in. You may not hear back from everyone you meet and want to connect with, so be sure to not be overly sensitive. Remember the following: you will not hear from a single person you do not reach out to in the first place.
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This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.