After the Event
There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. ~ John F. Kennedy.
Your networking event is over, and now your real work begins! It’s time for action on your part. I’ve included a checklist below to help get you going:
- Send written thank-you’s within 24 hours. The day after the event call or send a thank-you email (or note card) to the person or sponsor who invited you to the event. If you don’t know the inviter well, send a more formal email or, if warranted, a short typewritten letter, preferably on Monarch size letterhead but regular size is fine, as well. The important thing is to send thanks to show your gratitude and thoughtfulness, but also to enhance your reputation and help ensure that you will be invited to the next event. Then, send a thank-you email to everyone from whom you have collected a business card. The emails can be more detailed to those who you intend to cultivate as serious contacts, and brief but just as cheerful emails to the others. NOTE: Handwritten cards are de rigueur for social occasions, but for business I advise typed snail mail thank-you’s.
- Review business cards and other notes you received. Before you forget, oganize them in order of importance and timeliness to get in touch. Make notes and document ideas you might have on the backs of the business cards or in whichever system you have set up to track contacts. For example, in Tier A are those cards of people you hope to meet with soon to arrange a job interview or from whom you expect to receive a job lead, and Tier B are cards of those with whom you plan to stay in touch but not necessarily meet with immediately. Tier C contains cards of those you are not sure about but will hang onto for awhile (you never know what might crop up). Input them all into your contacts spreadsheet or database to keep track of your growing network.
- Contact the people in Tiers A and B. Once you’ve organized your new contacts and completed your research, send those emails, or call those with whom you discussed scheduling a timely meeting or interview or just wish to meet with soon. Send along news clipping or links to articles on topics discussed at the event in which your new contact(s) are interested.
- Perform due-diligence. Conduct a Google of each new acquaintance and check them out on LinkedIn. Supplement the information you gathered about them at the event with any new knowledge you gain by your post-event research. Check out their companies, respective job boards and if there are any news or feature articles about them, their companies or industries so you can continue to converse knowledgeably with them and show your interest.
- Send a LinkedIn invitation to each of your new contacts. You may do this in addition to or instead of a separate email, but if and when you do be sure to send a personal message along with the invitation that reminds your invitee who you are and how the two of you met. Never send a generic, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn”; not only is that type of invitation cold and uninformative, it’s presumptuous and discourteous. Click only on the “Connect” button in the profile page of the person with whom you wish to connect, as often when you click on “Connect” at other locations your invitation goes through without affording you the opportunity of including a message. Before sending the invitation to connect, ensure that your LinkedIn Profile Page is up to date, includes your photo, and that your privacy settings will allow someone to view it.
- Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep track of the activities and comments of your most important new contacts.
- Offer something first. Be alert to something that you can do for any of your new contacts. It doesn’t have to be right away, but refrain from asking them for too many favors right off the bat. Remember that your network is a two-way street; there has to be give and take – you must do for your contacts as well as expecting them to do for you. For example, you might connect your new acquaintance with someone who can provide a product or service she has been seeking, or send a clipping on a vacation spot he’s been thinking of taking his family, etc. It doesn’t have to be something major; small gestures are often appreciated and remembered.
- Prepare for the next event.Check your business card supply and order more, if necessary. If you are unemployed or are a student, order simple “calling” cards that contain your name, profession or major, email address, LinkedIn address and perhaps a telephone number. Cards are an essential component to have at a networking event so that people know how to get in touch with you.
Networking online is essential in our modern technological age. But networking face to face is the way we humans were intended to interact, and is how we build true and lasting relationships. And good, strong relationships are what pave the way to success. So, once the event that you worked so hard to conquer is over, you must take action to follow up and solidify those budding relationships. And, remember, if you did not make a contact at a particular event, don’t despair. View it as a practice session for the next event. And the one after that. And the one after that.
Next week we’ll look at the steps you can take to nail the interview!
Until Next time,