Many people have trouble following through on and nurturing relationships established at networking events. It’s not easy to approach people who you might have spoken with for only a few minutes before exchanging business cards and moving on. Even though it might be convenient to blame the networker, the problem is usually not with the person. The problem is the system, or lack thereof.
Although most people understand the important role networking and socialising can play in a career or a business, very few people put in place a good system for following up with the people they meet during an evening of networking and socialising. In fact, many just drop the ball entirely and never follow up at all.
If you are iffy about following up, here are a few tips which will help lessen the awkwardness. You can do it without being and sounding too obvious.
Send memorable first emails within 24 hours
One of the most effective ways to remind people you’ve met that you still have them at the top of your mind is to send memorable follow-up emails. For this first email, you want to demonstrate that you are thoughtful, reliable, and consistent. Just as you will have put in effort to make a good impression at the initial meeting, you should also make a good impression in your first email. That means you should make sure there are no typos or spelling errors, run-on sentences, clumsy hit-ons, or off-colour jokes.
Even though email can be a more casual form of communication, that does not mean it is acceptable for your email to sound like it came from a tween sending texts from the mall food court.
Some of the best first emails are those which share useful data (articles, tips), offer help (how your services can help the recipient), and most importantly – one which focuses on the person you are writing to, and not the sender.
Invite the person to a free or comped event
Free or comped events are a great excuse for getting back in touch later. For example, you could send an email to someone you met with, inviting him/her to a small panel discussion you think would be of interest to them. She was a board member for the sponsoring organization, so she offered me a complimentary ticket.
The key here is the event has to be free or already paid for, and relevant or useful to the person you just met. If you try to get the person you just met to buy a ticket to some event you are promoting, you will probably only annoy that person.
Make an introduction or referral
Another strategy you could use, especially with people you have just met, is to introduce the new person to someone else you know. Let’s face it, you may not have the right answer to every person’s need, but you could deepen your relevance by helping them find someone who may be able to help them. People love relevant introductions, especially when the introduction can help them in their business or career. What’s more, if the two people really hit it off, they will always remember you were the person who introduced them. This type of approach endears you to new contacts, and makes you appear helpful, concerned and reliable.