1. Have a system
Before you sign in to a zoom meeting, make sure you have a plan. Set aside time on your calendar 24-to-72 hours after an event to follow up with the people you met. Literally block the time out as you would with an important appointment. Additionally, how will you capture information at the event? Have a note pad and take notes to remind yourself of the topics you discussed. It’ll pay off later.
2. Prioritize the contacts
Everyone you meet is not equal. It would be great if we could follow up with everyone in the meeting with an hour-long personal meeting and learn at leisure about what they do. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t have this luxury. So think about the people you see and decide who you’ll connect with on social media, who’ll get a follow up email, and who’s just not important enough to reach out to. Consider those you either had a great personal connection with or who may be a potential client or strategic partner and they are the ones that should be your top priority to cultivate and grow the relationships.
3. Remember that small things become huge
Take note of the special events and interests of those in the meeting and reach out. Keep in mind someone’s birthday, someone new in there field, received a promotion or had some other milestone event. Use these items as opportunities to reach out. In your conversations, if issues come up that you can help with, be a resource. Perhaps someone at a networking event mentions their husband is recently unemployed and looking for an executive career coach. If you know someone appropriate, contact them with the information or make the introduction. Or if someone mentions they know Instagram could really help with marketing their business but they don’t understand what to do, send them a helpful article with some tips. Action items like this will help you stand out, be of value and be extremely appreciated because they show you listened.
4. Do what you say you’ll do
Often at a networking event you may promise to make an introduction or send a new contact some information about an event or an organization. Following through with those promises is a great way to build trust and credibility with a new connection. Conversely, if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, you’ve really made a bad impression. In the future when you see that person again, it will be an elephant in the room with both of you thinking about the fact that you never followed through with what you promised. Uncool!
5. Open your network
Ask your new contacts who they’re looking to meet and try to make a few introductions within your network to help them out. You can also tell people to feel free to look at your social media connections and let you know if there is anyone you can introduce them to that would be helpful. Note you don’t have to do this with every new contact. Some people will take advantage. Make sure you have vetted people in some way or gotten to know them better before simply opening your network.
Remember, being successful with your networking follow up has a lot to do with planning ahead. Have a system in place where you are reaching out to people in your network every 30 or 60 days, or whatever works for you. Think about setting up quarterly phone calls with people in your network to simply hear about what projects they are working on or what challenges they are facing. It’s less about you and more about how you can serve them. All that good karma will come back to you.