Networking Follow Up

Networking

While networking you may feel like the challenge is getting yourself out there to make introductions and meet new people.  The challenge to make the connection, however, is only the first, small step in really expanding your personal network.  If your networking focuses on only making the introduction, then you are missing out on the larger process of truly building a mutually beneficial relationship as the purpose of networking.  Getting the card or contact information is a great step in the right direction but if the process begins and ends there it is not worth the paper it was printed on.  Here are some steps that assist in your networking efforts getting the results you are looking for to really building your networks.

Find a place to keep the cards organized: I have pockets in jackets and purses that I can always reach in to find a mysterious old card popping up like the ghost of Christmas past.  Making sure you have a centralized hub for keeping your cards ensures you have the card at hand for you to make any contact attempts.  It also cuts down on time for the hunt for the card in case you are able to refer business in the direction of the source of the card.  I hate paper so I scan most of my cards into an app that keeps them organized and available at the touch of a finger.  With the technology in place you can quickly turn a pick to a fully completed contact, organized in a folder that you can customize to help you remember and access the information later.

Make a note of the details: The when, where and how of meeting someone can quickly go out the window a week after making the rounds at a networking event.  Use the card as a great space to take notes of not only the details of meeting someone new but also any information that was personal to your conversation.  These details can help you in transitioning that person into your network and helping their recall of exactly who you are.

Strike while the iron is hot: Networking is not an instance where you can just sit back and wait for things to happen.  Truth is most people are busy and if you are pursuing someone to be in your network the early bird has a lot better chance of getting the worm.  Making moves to have lunch or coffee early can quickly take you to the next stage in determining if it is a good fit.  Building relationships is a matter of trust and likeability.  Hopefully at the introduction you were liked but building trust is a key component in having someone to want to support you in your endeavors.

Find a way to distinguish yourself.  If you have twenty cards in your pocket when you leave a function most likely who you have met has a pocket full of cards as well.  Sometimes a conversation or meeting is particularly memorable but others, even if enjoyable, can fade away.   Breaking away from the pack in how you follow up can bridge the gap in helping someone relate back to you.  I try to send a personal note to people I feel I connected particularly well with.  As mail is rare, a nice card and careful handwriting can leave a lasting impression as opposed to quickly drafted emails or Linked In request.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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