That All-Important Second Date: How To Take Networking Connections Further
You’ve spent all day at a networking event. You’ve hardly sat down, you’ve talked yourself hoarse and your head is buzzing with countless stories you’ve been told.
You’ve also come away with a heap of business cards and scribbled notes. There’s even the odd promise to call someone back, or arrange a follow-up meeting.
So, how do you tackle this mountain of post-networking follow up? How do you avoid letting all that hard work go to waste?
Welcome to our ultimate guide to arranging that all-important second business date following a networking event!
When should I follow up?
Don’t hang around. Remember – everyone else is just as busy as you, and no matter how great that first encounter was, memories of it will quickly start to fade if you fail to take action.
There really is no such thing as too soon when it comes to networking follow ups. The next day is the best way to strike while the iron is hot, but if you think the relationship really does have legs, don’t feel bad about sending a quick email or text that evening to thank the person for their time.
Never put off those networking follow up tasks. They may look a bit unpalatable to begin with (you’ll have had your fill of networking after the event, after all), but the longer you leave them, the more you’ll have wasted that day.
With that in mind, here’s a whole bunch of ways you can make the follow up process easier – and successful:
Read your notes
If you took notes during the networking event – read them. There’s nothing worse than leaving notes to gather dust. You took them for a reason!
Within your notes, you should be able to find handy reminders about why you were so keen to follow up with the person in question. Read them, digest what it was that excited you and work it into any correspondence you send them.
The most obvious thing to do is email your new contact, right? Exactly! In fact, it’s so obvious, that you might think it’s entirely the wrong thing to do. But it isn’t; a follow up email remains an awesome way to remind them of your encounter. The email should be relatively simple. It’s designed to reaffirm that you think there’s an opportunity to take the conversation further, so focus the content on them.
Don’t waffle on about yourself; tell them how much you enjoyed talking and hearing about their latest product/new business/sales record – whatever it might be. Ask them what they thought of the event, too – this is a great second icebreaker.
Finish by saying you’d love to chat further and offer a few tentative dates to either do so on the phone or in person again.
Connect on LinkedIn
Many people have swapped traditional networking for the digital version, but the fact you’ve been to a networking event and met someone you’d like to stay in touch with proves how easy it is to miss out on such opportunities.
Despite this, LinkedIn remains king of the digital business networking platforms, which is why you absolutely must use it to reach out and connect with the person you met.
There’ll be little chance they’re not on LinkedIn, and a quick search of their name or email address should draw them out pretty quickly.When connecting on LinkedIn, use the messaging option to remind them again of who you are and reiterate that you’d like to keep in touch.If your new contact accepts your connection and – even better – writes back to confirm they’re of the same mind, you’re onto a good thing.
Try calling them
This is an option if you think there’s a significant opportunity to be sniffed out.
If you have their number to hand, just call them. Go for it! Providing they pick up, you can approach this conversation in the exact same way as the follow up email.
Thank them for their time, say you loved hearing their story and confirm you’d like to keep in touch if they also think there’s an opportunity to explore.
You’ll quickly get the measure of how keen they are on the phone. And, if you hit it off again, you’ll feel more confident about asking to meet up to talk further.
Follow them on Twitter
Twitter can’t really beat LinkedIn when it comes to the specifics of business networking, but it’s a great way to show that you’re interested in someone and provides an invaluable window into their world.
Once you’ve followed your networking event contact on Twitter, you can start to get a feel for their personality. This can be absolutely vital when planning follow-up meetings, because you’ll have a far better idea of how to approach them.
Think twice about connecting on Facebook
This really is a matter of personal choice, but it’s advisable to avoid connecting with an acquaintance as fresh as this on Facebook.
Remember – Facebook is primarily for social use, and if you use it to occasionally fool around with, or post photos of nights out with friends, you’re probably not really going to paint the most business-like picture.
When considering social networks on which to follow and connect with networking contacts, opt for those which are focused on business.
Don’t add them to mailing lists
One of the most common errors made by networking rookies is to immediately add the email addresses of everyone they meet at such events to a mailing list.
Don’t. These people haven’t given you consent to do that and, regardless, why would they want to start receiving your email marketing campaigns all of a sudden?
The point of obtaining email addresses at networking events is to make direct contact – not to communicate via your marketing strategy.
Enter their information into your CRM
If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, now is the time to add the details of networking event contacts to it.
Add your notes from the event, too. Chances are, you’ll lose them at some point, and if everything you know about the person is in your CRM, it won’t go walkies (it’s also very handy info to have to hand when speaking to them on the phone).
Invite them to events you have coming up
A great way to break the ice a second time with a networking contact is to invite them to an event you have coming up.
Perhaps there’s a trade show on the horizon, or you’re opening a new branch somewhere. Whatever it is, invite them along by saying you’d to give them the chance to get to know your business a little more (and vice-versa).
Networking isn’t easy, but it’s all-too-easy to let your hard work go to waste. Use our tips above, and you’ll make the most of those new connections you discovered on the day.