When it comes to building your network for professional or personal reasons, many fail themselves simply because they don’t do the due diligence of following up with people they have met. Building relationships is an investment and it is most beneficial when it is long term. If you want to have a strong extended network, you need to invest your time in building and nurturing those relationships accordingly. Number one mistake people make is they look at networking as short term to get something they want (an opportunity, a business deal, a job, a referral, etc.). Don’t think short term, think long term. People refer people they like, they trust, and they know. That takes time to build! Networking should be organic and genuine. Just as in our personal lives, not everyone we will meet we will like and vice versa. The goal is not to connect with everyone, the goal is to connect with those who we have common interests or areas of work with, those we can get along with, those we can genuinely build a relationship with. Not everyone you will meet is going to be that and that is okay. Do not force connections. People feel when you are not genuine and frankly speaking nobody wants to have a put on/forced interaction. Keep it simple, keep it human.
When you meet a new contact, follow up with an email within 24 hours, send them a short email refreshing your conversation, thanking them for an event if they organized it, etc. If it is someone you would like to stay in touch with, then go ahead and create an action to see them again to continue the conversation. Here are some examples:
“Hi Mariam, great to meet you earlier today. I really enjoyed our chat about AI and how it will impact the future of work. It would great to stay in touch and continue the conversation. I will be in touch next week to set something up.”
“Hi Leslie, I had a real pleasure speaking with you at the event today. I hope you enjoyed the sessions as well. Let’s stay in touch and I look forward to seeing you at future events.”
“Hi Jon, pleasure to meet you at the forum yesterday. What an inspiring event, thank you for organizing. We did not get a chance to speak much, it would be great to catch up if you are available. How is next week for you?”
*Tip* When you meet anyone, write down on their business card or make note on your phone where you met, what you discussed, actions to be taken, if any, etc. Also, make sure to connect with them on LinkedIn, include a personal note when sending the invitation. This way they will see your updates, articles, news, etc.
Whether you ended up having a follow up meeting or not, if the person you have met you want to maintain contact with, you need to stay in touch! You may not need to have a follow up meeting with them at this stage, but maintain the contact. Here are some basic tips for staying in touch with people (social media such as LinkedIn has made it much easier as well, utilize it):
· Send them congratulations or holiday wishes as applicable
· Share useful article or news that might be of interest to them
· Engage in their posts on LinkedIn (in moderation)
· Catch up over coffee casually, if appropriate
· Invite them to an event which might be of interest to them, share information, knowledge, etc.
· Host a group lunch or dinner, or some social activity; invite a group of contacts (if they don’t want to attend, they will just say no, so don’t be afraid to ask!
How often have you met someone, established a connection, found common areas of interest personally or professionally, yet months went by and you never spoke with them. Then, you remember them and decided to reach out but at that stage you have not spoken with them in months and now find yourself with a dilemma of whether or not they will remember you or if it is even appropriate to reach out after months of neglecting the relationship?
Quick answer: just reach out anyway, do your due diligence and send that email/make that phone call. What is the worst that will happen? They won’t respond? It is okay. Don’t answer for them and don’t make assumptions.
You can say something along the lines of “Hi Mariam, I cannot believe it has been months since we last met at the forum, how have things been for you? I would love to have a chance to catch up with you and hear your updates, as well as refresh our acquaintanceship, please do let me know your availability over the next couple of weeks. I really look forward to catching up. “
Building relationships should not be hard, it should be simple, organic, and genuine. Best way to get started? Just get started, that is the best way and practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to get out there and start connecting, building your network. What is the worst that can happen?
October 11, 2018
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