Kathryn Simpson at Kathryn Simpson Consulting, Creating Success from Strategy
This is the third and final article in a series of how to enjoy and be better at networking. Once you have prepared well for a networking event (Part 1) and attended and enjoyed the meeting (Part 2) a lot of work has been done to make networking valuable. This part is all about following up. How many times have you been to a networking event and then forgotten about it quickly? Following up is often hard as you get back into your day to day world. But if it is going to be of lasting value I’ve found there are some useful tips to maximise your success.
- Make notes about your conversations. On your way home from the event (yes really!) write the event and date you met on their card / in a notebook / on the event literature and make a note that will remind you of your specific conversation.
- Follow up. The most important tip of all. Remember this is the first step of the journey to building strong relationships. Sort your cards into who you want to meet again (send an email) and who you would like to be connected with (link in). Use LinkedIn to see if you have other connection points – connections or experiences so you can also refer to this. Ideally this should be done between 24- 48 hours later so both you and your contacts can remember. Refer to a specific conversation you had and if you committed to send them something do it! Following up sooner can lose you the opportunity to be in touch with people in different ways and leaving it longer people may have forgotten you!
- Decide whether you will go to this kind of networking event again. There are many kinds of networking events. You want to find events that suit you and your personality as well as achieving your objectives (including meeting people that you want to build relationships with). Put those that you want to attend regularly in your calendar. Meeting people several times is the way to build relationships that will help your future success. It’s very lucky if you get something from the first event you go to. Going to the same event on more than one occasion helps you to feel much more confident and maximizes your chances of building successful relationships.
- Consider volunteering to help put on events. By working with others outside your organisation you really get to know people and this is where the real value of networking can emerge as you quickly build relationships. Some associations (and thus networking events) are done purely on a volunteer basis. Others that have full time staff are often looking to have collaboration with members / attendees.
Networking can be lots of fun once you master some of these tips. If you are clear about your objective, remember that it is a mutually beneficial activity and treat it as one step in the process then you will be set for successful networking. Good luck!
Thanks to Kurt Heaven my neophyte networker for trying out some of these tips and telling me what worked for him!