Do These 5 Things Immediately After a Networking Event

You made great contacts, don't blow it by being lazy.

We’ve all done it. You go to a networking event, have some great conversations, collect business cards and promise to follow up when you get home. A week (maybe two weeks!) later you find the cards at the bottom of your purse or briefcase and think, who are these people?

Don’t let this happen to you. Networking involves time and money and you want to make the most of the events you attend. Here are some follow-up tips to make sure you cultivate new relationships and grow your network.

1. Have a system

Before you go to an event, make sure you have a plan. Set aside time on your calendar 24-to-72 hours after an event to follow up with the people you met. Literally block the time out as you would with an important appointment. Additionally, how will you capture information at the event? Pro tip: Take notes on the business cards to remind yourself of the topics you discussed. It’ll pay off later.

2. Prioritize the contacts

Everyone you meet is not equal. It would be great if we could follow up with everyone we meet with an hour-long personal meeting and learn at leisure about what they do. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t have this luxury. So think about the people you meet and decide who you’ll connect with on social media, who’ll get a follow up email, and who’s just not important enough to reach out to. Consider those you either had a great personal connection with or who may be a potential client or strategic partner and they are the ones that should be your top priority to cultivate and grow the relationships.

3. Remember that small things become huge

Take note of the special events and interests of those in your network and reach out. Use the “keep in touch” feature on LinkedIn that alerts you when it’s someone’s birthday, they have a new job, received a promotion or had some other milestone event. Use those automatic alerts as opportunities to reach out. In your conversations, if issues come up that you can help with, be a resource. Perhaps someone at a networking event mentions their husband is recently unemployed and looking for an executive career coach. If you know someone appropriate, contact them with the information or make the introduction. Or if someone mentions they know Instagram could really help with marketing their business but they don’t understand what to do, send them a helpful article with some tips. Action items like this will help you stand out, be of value and be extremely appreciated because they show you listened.

4. Do what you say you’ll do

Often at a networking event you may promise to make an introduction or send a new contact some information about an event or an organization. Following through with those promises is a great way to build trust and credibility with a new connection. Conversely, if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, you’ve really made a bad impression. In the future when you see that person again, it will be an elephant in the room with both of you thinking about the fact that you never followed through with what you promised. Uncool!

5. Open your network

Ask your new contacts who they’re looking to meet and try to make a few introductions within your network to help them out. You can also tell people to feel free to look at your LinkedIn connections and let you know if there is anyone you can introduce them to that would be helpful. Caveat: Don’t do this with every new contact. Some people will take advantage. Make sure you have vetted people in some way or gotten to know them better before simply opening your network.

Remember, being successful with your networking follow up has a lot to do with planning ahead. Have a system in place where you are reaching out to people in your network every 30 or 60 days, or whatever works for you. Think about setting up quarterly phone calls with people in your network to simply hear about what projects they are working on or what challenges they are facing. It’s less about you and more about how you can serve them. All that good karma will come back to you — I promise!

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