The Critical Importance of Following Up – And 7 Ways to Do It
What happens the day after you attend a networking event, association meeting, mixer, seminar, conference or trade show? Do you follow up with people you just met like you promised OR were asked to do? Let’s talk about the importance of following up.
The First Step
You know that the event you’re attending will be a great opportunity to expand your network, so it’s important to stay focused on the importance of following up.
Before the event, you’ll want to make sure you do your due diligence. At a minimum, this should include:
- Researching who is going to be there
- Knowing the dress code (assuming it’s an in person event)
- Preparing a self-introduction that’s relevant to the event
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 whom will be able to help you.
All in all, this was one of your more successful events and you leave feeling pretty good about yourself. Now what???
Not following up with the new contacts you’ve made is a critical mistake.
The word “work” is in “networking” for a reason.
Remember, you don’t go to a business event simply to have a good time, to hear the speaker, or because you’re hungry or thirsty. You attend for variety of reasons:
- You are in, or contemplating, a career transition
- You are representing your company to explore and meet new connections
Don’t forget the importance of following up! 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.
7 Tips for Following Up
Here are seven tips to set you up for following up after networking events:
- Collect business cards. Of course, this is 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 time the next 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. Don’t be that person!
- Take notes while the information is fresh. Be sure to write notes on every business card while you can remember what was said, what the focus of the conversation was, what you do for that person, and what angle you should take for your follow-up? Staying organized in this manner is critical, especially if you connected with many new individuals.
- Connect by email within 48 hours. An office worker can receive an average of 121 emails per day! Keep your approach in mind; 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 an email reply, within 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Bottom Line
Keep the importance of following up in the forefront of your mind.
Remember that most people are extremely busy. It’s no excuse for their rudeness or lack of consideration, but try not to take it personally.
If you end up hearing crickets after every attempt at following up, 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!” Never, ever underestimate the importance of following up!
Mark James, CPC is the President of Hire Consulting Services, established in 1999. He is a Certified Personnel Consultant and has been providing executive career transition coaching and executive recruiting services for over 25 years. Mark is also a Certified Partner with Predictive Index® Behavior Assessments focused on talent selection and leadership development.