In previous posts, we’ve gone over how to prepare for your first networking event as well as what to expect and do once you are there. However, just because the networking event is done, it does not mean your work is over. Knowing what to do after a networking event is every bit as important as before and during. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your first networking experience.
Follow Up with a Quick Email
Your networking event should not exist in a bubble. What good is making a connection if you don’t follow through? While you should not send an email to every person to whom you introduced yourself, anyone you had a meaningful conversation definitely deserves a follow up. Doing so conveys the sentiment that you paid attention during your conversation with the individual and have every intention of pursuing a meaningful connection.
The email you send does not need to be overly substantial. A simple, quick note to reintroduce yourself (everyone is sure to talk to a ton of people at a networking event) will be sufficient. In your email, reintroduce yourself, where you met, and a small detail from your conversation. It’s also a good idea to invite them to speak again (more on that below). Reminder: In addition to an email, make sure you add the person on LinkedIn.
Schedule Another Meeting
The entire purpose of networking events is to make lasting connections. A great way to ensure your connection goes beyond one meaningful conversation is set up another time to talk. While a networking event serves as the platform for you to introduce yourself, a follow-up conversation allows you and your connection to dig a little deeper. Meeting one-on-one gives you the opportunity to talk at greater length and fortify the connection you’ve already made.
Regardless of your goals, this second meeting should still be informal. There’s no reason to jump right into a conference room or send someone your resume just yet. Keep things conversational and open ended. Grabbing lunch or coffee in a public place is your best bet. All of this helps keep pressure off the situation and allows the both of you to speak comfortably.
Perform A Self-Evaluation
We focused on immediate follow ups with the new connections you made after an event, but don’t forget that networking is a continuous learning process. Whether it’s your first or thirtieth such event, there’s always room for improvement. Take some time before or after you follow up with your contacts (we recommend before, it may change up how you write those emails or meet for coffee!), spend time on your networking performance and reflect on your introductions and conversations. Here is some guidance on your self-evaluation:
How many introductions did you ultimately end up making? If it was less than your goal, is it because you diverted into meaningful conversation? Was your introduction well-rehearsed but also natural? How much time did you spend listening versus speaking? Critique yourself and update your personal goals for next time. Take notes if needed, re-rehearse your elevator pitch and personal introduction. Be honest. If you felt like you didn’t do well, or the networking event didn’t have the professionals or industries you wanted to connect with, use those lessons as a way to choose a future event more suited to your needs. This is a great way to improve your networking technique one event at a time.
Find Your Next Networking Event
Networking and building meaningful connections is not a once-and-done affair. Far from it! Finding meaningful networking events should be a career-long endeavor for every ambitious professional. There are plenty of resources to help you find events near you, or if you want to make networking a regular part of your week or month (which we highly recommend), consider joining a networking group.
One great way to keep up with your networking goals is right here at Ascender. We offer a number of monthly events geared and helping you network and grow your business or company. From our Starter Series that focuses on the crucial elements of starting a new business, our Builder Series to help you understand every element of running a successful company, to monthly themed programming on every topic under the sun. Check out our full calendar of events here to get started on your first networking experience.