So, you’ve mastered the art of working the room, but that drawer full of business cards is meaningless if you don’t put just as much work into the follow-up.
24-48 hours after an event, career experts agree, is the ideal window in which to drop a note to a new contact. But what should it say? Delve into our top tips to ensure you utilise your expanding network to best effect.
KEEP IT SUCCINCT
75% of employees spend as much as a quarter of their time managing their inboxes – small wonder our reliance on technology has led to what experts are labelling “an e-mail epidemic”.
Adding to your new contact’s pain is unlikely to win you any favours, so avoid the temptation to send an essay detailing all your current projects, dreams and needs, however interested in you they may have seemed. Keep it to one or two paragraphs and you’re far more likely to receive a response.
FLATTERY WILL GET YOU EVERYWHERE
Who doesn’t like hearing how much someone loved their sparkling, witty, intelligent company? Don’t overdo it, but do highlight why you enjoyed meeting them and why you’re pleased to have them as a connection.
GIVE FIRST, ASK LATER
The best types of relationships are those that bring mutual benefit, but requests for information or introductions can create the wrong first impression – especially over email, where it’s more difficult to judge tone.
When you’re first reaching out to a new contact, think about what it is that will most benefit them – what information could interest or inform them, what connections can you make for them that could help them in whatever direction they’re headed?
ONE THING AT A TIME
It can be perceived as overkill if you send someone a personal email and follow up immediately with a LinkedIn connection request.
Be patient – if someone doesn’t get back to you immediately, don’t chase or you could risk alienating them. And if you do connect on LinkedIn, don’t be tempted to also look them up on Facebook or Twitter, unless they’ve specifically told you they use those platforms for business purposes.
MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO RESPOND
As well as letting them know you’d like to hear from them, include in your signature a link to your professional Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog or business website.
This is a great way of communicating your interests without going into tons of detail in the email copy.
MOVE THE RELATIONSHIP FORWARD
How you do this will depend on what was discussed in person. If you got on like a house on fire and inviting your new connection for a coffee doesn’t feel too fast, then by all means suggest some times and places that could work.
If you’re feeling the waters, you could ask them if they’d like to be kept in the loop on something that interests them – an upcoming event or some other news you’re privy to that could benefit them.
DIARISE IMPORTANT DATES
Unless you keep on top of the relationship with your new contact, it can quickly dwindle away to nothing. If you believe that you can be genuinely useful to one another, put the work in. Interact with their LinkedIn blogs and posts, set reminders to get in touch with ‘good luck’ or ‘How did it go?’ messages around important dates in their calendars – job interviews, project finales or any other major events they’ve shared details of.
In the final series of Networking 101, we’ll be offering expert tips on network management from some of the most connected businesspeople around the world.