The Top 5 Ways to Follow-Up After Face-to-Face Networking Events

The Top 5 Ways to Follow-Up After Face-to-Face Networking EventsThis is the final post in a three-part series about how job seekers can better achieve their career goals via face-to-face networking. You can read the first post, The Top 4 Ways to Prepare for Face-to-Face Networking Events, here and second post, The Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Success at Face-to-Face Networking Events here.

A lot of job hunters seem to think that the real value of networking occurs on the spot during the face-to-face event, but in my experience, the true value of networking occurs after the event is over. Even if someone says that they will do X or Y on your behalf in a face-to-face encounter, the odds are high they will forget to do so once the event is over, which is why your follow-up actions are so critical.

And since many networking events you will participate in during the balance of the year are social occasions where the person you will speak with won’t necessarily be in “work” mode mentally, it is vital that you follow the event with each of the following five steps.

Start with a thank you. Once the event is over, the first step in your networking follow-up will be to say thank you for the opportunity to speak with them via email or text. It’s best to send your thank you within 24 hours to ensure the person will still remember you. Remind them of your conversation with one or more references to topics you discussed and make sure you mention the specific networking event, date, and time. Never assume that they will remember all the pertinent details because odds are that they will not.

Connect on LinkedIn. In most networking events, it would be appropriate to issue a LinkedIn invitation to the person once you arrive home or the very next day. There may be instances when you meet someone, and they tell you to send them a resume, but, in most cases, that doesn’t happen. Your second task after a face-to-face networking event, then, is to begin building rapport with the person outside of the occasion in which you first met. A LinkedIn invitation is a good way to start that relationship-building. As with your thank you, make sure you include the relevant when-you-met-and-what-you-said details to help them remember you.

You might wonder if you could combine these first two follow-up actions into one and thank the person via your LinkedIn invitation message. Technically, you could do so, but I don’t recommend it. First, you’ll deepen your relationship-building by having legitimate reasons to reach out to the person, so this isn’t the time to be efficient and eliminate an outreach method. Second, you’ll look more organized, courteous, and professional if you send a thank you note or message AND also send a personal invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Offer your new networking connection something of value. As a third step in your relationship-building with your contact, try to find an article, event, news item, or blog post online that might be relevant to that person’s business life to show that you were listening to them. I am a firm believer in “give to get” networking. Too many job seekers focus on trying to get what they want rather than giving something to the other person. This sharing of information does not go unnoticed, especially in a culture overwhelmed with people focusing on themselves. It is important to give first. This will help you stand out. And you can accomplish this by spending 10 to 15 minutes conducting a targeted search on your favorite search engine for an information resource your new contact may find helpful.

Send your networking resume. If you didn’t get a chance to share a marketing brief, bio, or networking resume at your first meeting, one of those might be pertinent to send after the event. This is especially true if you attended a social occasion or a networking event that wasn’t a job fair. In these types of events, it isn’t generally wise to share your resume because you don’t yet know what kind of openings may exist or what requirements they are seeking. Sharing your resume before you know these details robs you of the opportunity to tailor your document to meet the specifications of the role in question and that is not a good idea at all.

While resumes say “hire me,” bios and marketing briefs say “talk to me.” Getting more people to talk to you is a better way to land the job you really want than simply sending your resume to hundreds of people.

Marketing tools like bios, briefs, and, in some cases, one-page networking resumes help focus the networking contact’s attention on your career brand without overwhelming them with details too early in the process. These tools keep the conversation going and deepen the relationship while buying you time to determine what “ask” to make of this person who doesn’t yet know you well. It gives them more insight into your background without conveying the explicit expectation of a job that a full-blown resume exudes. While resumes say “hire me,” bios and marketing briefs say “talk to me.” Getting more people to talk to you is a better way to land the job you really want than simply sending your resume to hundreds of people.

Aim to serve. Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to ask how you can be of service to the other person, both in your original discussion with them and in your follow-up interactions. Ask questions like:

  • How can I help you in your business?
  • Is there anyone in my network I can connect you to?
  • What are you most looking for in your business?
  • What are your career growth plans for the New Year?

People who go out of their way to do this are recognized as strong networkers, which is the impression you probably want to cultivate.  And strong networkers tend to reciprocate, often without being asked to do so. When job seekers role model being of service to their network, they invite the reaction they want— someone to stop, notice them, and act on behalf of their career.

When you get right down to it, these five steps are obvious, right? They represent the things that every professional should be doing with everyone they meet on a regular basis. I promise you this – if you do, in fact, practice these steps in all your business and personal relationships, you’ll never want for help when it’s needed because you’ll have already given help when it’s needed. And turnabout really is fair play.

 

If you’re not getting results from networking, networking isn’t the problem. The problem is more likely how you’re networking or the tools you’re trying to leverage. To assess your networking performance, sign up for my no-obligation career consultation before your holiday networking begins.