Three Little Things: Networking 101–Follow Up is Critical

So you’ve attended an event. You practiced open-ended questions before you went, you met a couple of people and had some great conversation. And you collected a whole lot of business cards. Now what do you do?

Prompt follow-up is critical to building relationships you initiated at the event. Here are three little things you can do to evaluate your connections and follow up efficiently:

  1. The morning after the event (or later the same day, if you can), sort through the business cards you collected. Write the date and name of event on the card so you remember later where you met someone. Decide whether each person may be worth a follow up. If they are, complete your follow-up activities within 24 hours of the event.
  2. If the person looks like a good connection, check them out on LinkedIn. See what they do, who they work for, and, if you can, who their connections are. You may also want to check out their employer’s company page on LinkedIn and the company website. Look at their blog if they have one. If you have a Twitter or Google+ account, check their stream.
  3. If you decide to connect, you’ve got a couple of choices. Asking them to connect via LinkedIn is fine, but customize LinkedIn’s standard message! (Check LinkedIn Help if you don’t know how to do this.). It’s easy to follow someone on Twitter or Google+; if you decide the person isn’t a good fit, you can easily unfollow later on. You can also send them an email directly, or even call them.

More thoughts on connecting after an event: when in doubt, email is probably the easiest and least offensive. Some people won’t connect on LinkedIn unless they know you and not everyone uses social media. Phone calls can be intrusive; if you’re most comfortable on the phone, just be sure to get the other person’s permission to talk. (“Is this a good time to talk?”)

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