It’s easy to think that the hard part of networking is the event itself, and if we can navigate that successfully, we’ve done our jobs well and the connections will be made. But a big part of successful relationship development is continuity, and that means following up AFTER an event to ensure that you don’t drop off the other person’s radar.
When you’re new to networking, and particularly when your semester has just kicked off again, it’s easy to become very busy and distracted (both you and your prospective connections!) and no longer be top of mind with someone that you really may want to be better connected to.
So what should you do after a networking event? FOLLOW UP!
Here are three easy ways to ensure that you don’t lose the momentum that you’ve established:
Reach out: Within three days of meeting someone, reach out to them by email or phone to follow up on a conversation that you’ve had – and okay, yes, you can also text them. If it was an event with an attendee list, use that to inform your connecting so that you don’t forget anyone that you may have met – importantly, don’t just reach out to everyone on the list. Make sure that anyone you email or call is someone that you genuinely connected with, and will remember having a conversation with you. If appropriate, arrange to have a phone call to continue a conversation that you were having when you last met. Consider sharing photos, or an article that may be relevant to them.
Connect via social media: This is a favorite of mine because it’s really easy, and keeps you connected on an ongoing basis. The easiest thing to do is check on LinkedIn for the other attendees and connect with them. That way, you can keep up with their activity more regularly. For the lawyers I work with in the International Lawyers Network, we also recommend joining our LinkedIn group so that they can continue to interact with their colleagues online. Facebook and Twitter are good options as well (really!) – do a quick search for the attendees on these platforms if you’re using them and are comfortable connecting professionally on them. A good tip here is that if you know someone that may be a good connection for them, make an introduction for them through the platform – you’re already showing them that your relationship is valuable to them, and it really makes you top of mind for them.
Check your calendar: One of the things we recommend to our members is meeting with ILN attorneys when they’re visiting another member firm’s city. When you return from a conference or an event, it’s a great time to take a quick look at your calendar for the next few months and see where you’ll be traveling. Check these cities against the list of the people you met at the conference, and drop them a quick email to arrange to have lunch or coffee. If you were attending a local event, see if you can get a meeting on the calendar with someone that you connected with, so that you can get to know them a little better one on one. It’s great to have the social media and online connections, but the goal with any relationship development is to take that relationship offline, so that you can further deepen the connection – this is particularly important when you’re working to build your professional reputation and your firm prospects.
A bonus tip – when you have a networking event in your calendar, schedule these tips into your calendar as well for the day after, so that you’re less likely to forget to do them. It’s easy to get caught up in work when we get back to school, especially if the networking event is a conference or long event. So if you can set yourself up for success by dedicating 15-20 minutes to follow up, you’ll be really making the most out of your relationship development activities!