So, you’ve realized the importance of networking and attended a networking event. Your networking strategy worked and now you’ve collected several business cards from people you’d like to speak to again. Now what do you do?
Networking doesn’t end after a conference or event comes to close. Once you meet the people you wanted to establish relationships with, keep this connection going after the event. Stay in touch and manage to continue the actual communication which will be foundation for your strong relationship and network. The stack of business cards you brought back after the event has no value if you don’t use them.
It’s good practice to follow up with new connections within 24-48 hours after a networking event. One of the simplest ways to follow up with a contact is to send an email. Your email doesn’t have to be overly detailed. You’ll want to express that you enjoyed meeting with them and remind them of where you met. Be sure to briefly mention what was discussed and, if acceptable, request an additional meeting. Your email may sound something like this:
“It was a pleasure meeting you at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair. What a great event! I really enjoyed discussing employee recognition programs with you. I would like to continue our conversation and show you what my company offers. How does your schedule look next Wednesday to schedule a phone call or Skype conference?”
Keep in mind that not everyone you meet at a networking event is going to directly benefit your company. Perhaps you met someone who has a need that you cannot fill, but you know someone who can. Take the lead and provide them with the information they seek. While this isn’t a direct benefit for your business, it can help you build a positive reputation. In this scenario, your follow up email may sound like this:
“During our conversation at the conference, you inquired as to whom my company uses for its corporate awards. I am happy to provide their contact information for you. We have been using the services of Levy Recognition for a few months now and love their products. Their phone number is (813) 879-7775. Let me know if you’d like help arranging a meeting.”
Establishing relationships with new connections could open the door for numerous opportunities. In the beginning, it is important to keep it simple. Understand that you may give without always receiving. That doesn’t mean the new connection is not worth your effort. Contacts you make at networking events could know hundreds, if not thousands of other people. Following up and helping new contacts find information or services they have been searching for could put you in a position to ask for an introduction with someone from their network that may benefit you.
The final step in following up is to know how to deepen your relationships over the long-term. After an initial follow up, try finding ways to stay in touch with your new connection. You may want to check in once a month to start, or connect over a social media network like LinkedIn. Try keeping your conversations professional and directly related to business as you get to know each other. If they became a customer of your business, remember to thank them for their patronage. Find out if there is anything more you can do for them. Never ask for more business or guilt them into making additional purchases on the premises that you are acquaintances. If you shared a contact or referred them to a business, ask them if they were able to get what they needed. Offer additional help finding information or making an appointment if they are struggling to get in touch with the person you referred them to.
Staying in touch with the people you meet at networking events has the potential to create long-lasting business relationships (and even friendships).
Attending events like the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair is a great way to practice your networking skills. Going to the event? We want to connect with you! Be sure to stop by the Levy Recognition booth to learn more about our recognition programs, corporate awards and other services!
This is part of our Networking Series. Our other tips include:
# 1 Plan Your Networking Strategy
#2 Making a Positive First Impression
#3 Business Card Etiquette
#4 Tricks to the Tradeshow Booth
#5 Following Up After Your Networking Event