The Critical Importance of Following Up – And How to Do It

After you attend a networking event, association meeting, mixer, seminar, conference or trade show – what happens the next day? Do you actually follow up with people you just met – like you promised to do OR were asked to do? 

Before the event: do your due diligence: research who’s going to be there, know the dress code, and prepare a self-introduction that’s relevant to the event. You know that this will be a great opportunity to expand your network. Then you attend the event and meet a handful of new, potentially-valuable contacts, all of whom will be assets to your network, and many of which you know who you will be able to help. All in all, this was one of your more successful events, and you leave feeling pretty good about yourself. Now What?

The critical mistake is not following up with the new contacts you’ve made. The word “work” is in networking for a reason. Remember – you don’t go to a networking event simply to have a good time or because you’re hungry or thirsty. You attend for various reasons; you are in career transition or you are representing your company to explore and meet new connections. In order to make the most out of your networking experience, it’s imperative that the follow-up occurs within 48 hours, while the memory of connecting is new and fresh!

Here is a step-by-step list to help you follow-up:

  • Collecting business cards is, of course, the first order of business. You cannot assume that other people will follow-up with you just because you gave them your card.
  • Time management counts: When you’ve confirmed your attendance at an event, schedule the time in your day to follow-up! Many times, people do not follow up because they get busy, they forget, life takes over, they are lazy or they don’t really care?
  • While the information is fresh, be sure to write notes on every card. What was said? What was the focus? What can you do for that person? What angle should you take for your follow-up? Staying organized in this manner is critical, especially if you connected with many new individuals.
  • Connect by email the next day (within 48 hours). According to a recent study an office worker can receive an average of 121 emails per day. Remember to keep in mind your approach for each follow-up – a generic message to everyone isn’t a good idea. You want it to be personal, meaningful, relative and the message should reflect on what was discussed during your brief conversation.
  • Persistence is important. Follow up your email with a phone call. Leave a voicemail if necessary. If you don’t receive a call back or email reply within in a week, be patient, there are plenty of good reasons why other people can’t or don’t follow up with you. Above all don’t take it personal or get emotional because of their delay or ignorance. Follow up at least three times before you give up. Allow a week or two in between your messages so that you don’t look like your harassing the person. Just like in baseball, three strikes and you’re out. Lastly, call the person again with the hopes of catching them live on the phone to have a brief chat.
  • TIP #1: Don’t forget to research the person in advance and connect with them on LinkedIn! Send a personal note in your LinkedIn connection request reminding the contact of where you met and insert your best contact phone number and email. Suggest an appointment call on the phone to set up a time to meet over coffee, breakfast or lunch for a one on one meeting.
  • TIP #2: I saw this and thought of you…..It could be a piece of mail, a text, an email or even a mention in a tweet. This is a great one when reading an interesting online article, blog or post. The only reason I read the news is to use that information to follow up my network, clients and customers.

Bottom Line: It’s important to remember that most people are extremely busy, yet that’s no excuse for their rudeness or lack of consideration. Try not to take it personally. Instead of fretting about it, just move on and concentrate on cultivating business with clients who value and respect you.

At Hire Consulting Services we say, Your Network is your Net-Worth!”

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3 Comments
  • Reply

    Hi Mark. You’ve got some great tips here. So many people do all of the work making connections, then completely drop the ball when it comes to following up. It takes persistence and patience but the rewards can be huge. Thanks for the article!

  • Reply

    Some tips about the business cards we collect:
    1. Write the date of acquisition on the back. Sometimes it’s hard to find a “back” space when the card has printing on both sides. Glossy ones can be hard to ink. Use whatever sticks.
    2. Yes, write notes on the back right away before you forget something important. Or, write the notes on a separate note paper or card you always have with you, making sure to include a reference to the card. Print legibly.
    3. After some events, with many cards collected, it can be useful to make a color photocopy of all of them, front and back as needed, and put the copy into the file folder from the event, so it’s easy to see where you got the card, and can look at the copy to see all the cards you collected there. The cards themselves will be sorted into your card storage places by topics.

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