When it comes to expanding your network and creating new connections within an industry, attending a networking event is only the beginning of building the foundation for a mutually beneficial business relationship.
As great as it is that you’re putting yourself out there and participating in a networking event — whether it’s speed networking, roundtables, or targeted connections — building trust and forming relationships takes time and effort.
After you attend an event, here are 10 things to do to set yourself up for success. Hint: it’s all in the follow-up.
1. Review the business cards you collected:
Collecting business cards is common sense. But if you don’t take the time to review the cards you’ve collected or the schedules you were given (if it was a SpeedNetworking.com event), it’s easy to forget who is who and the possible value each person can bring to you and your organization. We highly recommend taking the time to review the cards you’ve collected shortly after the event ends while everything is still fresh in your mind.
2. Make personalized notes:
While you’re reviewing the business cards or customized schedule you received at the event, make personalized notes for each person you connected with: conversation topics, things you had in common, reasons for attending, if they were searching for any specific information or resources, and how you might be able to provide value. Taking personalized notes helps you craft a much more memorable follow-up email.
3. Add contact information to your phone, email list:
Before you forget, make sure you add in the contact information to your phone and email lists. You won’t want to carry around business cards forever, and if you don’t do it right away, you’re much less likely to do it at all. Plus, it only takes a few minutes!
4. Follow up with an email in a timely manner:
After you’ve reviewed your new contacts — and the notes you took for each person — start sending out follow-up emails. The timing here is key. You want to reach out while the event is still on their mind.
But don’t seem too pushy. If the event ended at 8 pm on a Thursday night, you don’t need to be sending out emails at late hours into the night. However, sending an email first thing the next morning shows you’re eager, excited, and interested in continue to building a relationship.
5. Craft a compelling message:
Timing is key but don’t overlook the power of a compelling messaging. Don’t just google a post-event email follow-up email and copy and paste. Make your message unique. Use the notes you took to include a personalized message that is specific to the conversation you had. Trust us. It goes a long way and your message is much less likely to get overlooked or lost in the clutter.
6. Provide value:
At the end of the day, networking is all about providing value. Do you know the answer to a solution they’ve been searching for? Can you provide your time or talent to help them overcome a challenge? What types of opportunities can you offer them?
7. Schedule a face-to-face meeting:
An email is nice, but you should always outline the next step when you follow-up. Let them know you’d like to meet again over coffee or cocktails and continue building the relationship. Creating meaningful connections within your industry doesn’t happen overnight so suggesting and scheduling a time to connect face-to-face is a great next step you can take to ensure that the relationship keeps progressing.
8. Connect them to someone in your current circle:
Even if you don’t end up having as much in common with someone as you thought you would, chances are, someone you know does. Think about your current circle and if there’s anyone they should meet. If so, make the introduction! As we said, it’s all about providing value.
9. Say thank you:
Time is a precious thing and thanking people for it is important. In your follow-up email after attending a networking event, thanking the people you met goes a long way and shows your thoughtfulness, appreciation, and respect. We’re all busy and it’s nice to feel appreciated.
10. Think about the ways you can improve for your next networking event:
Networking can be difficult — or even downright intimidating — even for the most outgoing among us. After you attend a networking event, take some time to reflect on the areas you can improve. Did you talk *and* listen? Or were doing most of the talking, leaving little time for the other person to share? Did you listen to respond or did you listen to understand? Did you go in with an open mind? How was your body language? Were you able to quickly — and clearly — explain what it is you do?
No matter what, we hope you enjoyed your experience and can use these tips + tricks to make more memorable follow-ups, continue to build on your connections, and improve your networking skills.