Every successful business owner wants a strong professional network. Attending one networking event is not enough to build the popularity of your business. The real value of networking begins by attending several events. The goal is to build strong relationships with those you meet to make people feel confident about recommending your business.
You want to build your credibility and trustworthiness in your professional network, but how can you do that? Attending a networking event leaves you with a pocket full of business cards, but how do you make sure they remember you? Decision makers are extremely busy people, and they meet hundreds of individuals in a networking event. It’s almost impossible to remember everyone. When you send a follow-up message after your interaction, you improve your chances at building a long-term relationship with fellow professionals.
Get the Benefits of a Networking Event with the Fine Art of Follow-UpGetting people’s attention at a networking event is important yet its just the first step. In this post, we explore how you can build your credibility to create a strong network that helps to grow your business. We talk about how to create a bond with industry colleagues, so they feel more comfortable in recommending your business. In short, we reveal how to perfect the fine art of networking event follow-up.
1 - Send a follow-up message within 24 hours
People have a short-term memory, and your aim should be to send a follow-up message within 24 hours of making the first contact. Let people know that you’re glad you met them, thank them for their time, and tell them that you would like to invest time in getting to know them better. It’s preferable to send emails or text messages over calling somebody you just met. It shows that you’re respectful and you value their time.
In your message, you can mention a conversation you had during the event, offer to help them with something, or ask for some feedback. When you mention specifics of your conversation, it helps them in recognizing you and tells them that you were truly paying attention during the conversation. You can also consider sending additional information or links around the topics as a way to get their attention.
2 - Connect on LinkedIn
When you’re trying to build a professional network, LinkedIn is the best social media on which to connect. You can add your LinkedIn QR code in your follow-up message so they can easily locate you on the social media channel. But before sending out the connection requests, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and consistent with the information you shared.
Treat your LinkedIn profile as your online professional brochure. Add a professional summary on your profile, and carefully curate your LinkedIn summary to speak about your industry experience.
3 - Set up a one-on-one meeting
Set up a follow-up meeting soon after your first contact. A great way to set up a convenient meeting time is to create your own personal online booking calendar with a free software like SuperSaaS. You can simply share the link to your schedule in your email and ask the person to set up a convenient time to chat.
With an online booking system, it’s convenient to cancel or reschedule, and with automated reminders from the system, you can ensure you and your prospects are both reminded about the meeting well ahead of time.
For example, SuperSaaS allows you to sync your personal Google calendar with your schedule, customize the layout to match your brand, avoid double bookings, reduce no-shows, stay flexible for timings, set recurring appointments in a click, maintain your contact list online and manage your customer database everywhere accessible across multiple devices.
4 - Write notes
Everyone has specific qualities and special interests. You can create your own personal relationship management file where you track the details of those you meet at networking events. You can choose to store some basic details like name, phone, business name, email ID, website link, which networking event you met them and when, when you last spoke to them, the medium of connecting, and any special things you've learned about them.
Every time you plan a meeting with the individual, you can simply locate his or her details in your personal database. When you remember information about people, they feel that you care and they tend to trust you more. This tip works great for building long-term relationships.
5 - Keep it short
Remember, keep your communication short and crisp. Nowadays, business professionals receive thousands of messages each day via different channels like WhatsApp, email, and text. You cannot expect them to read a lengthy message from someone they just met and stay interested in the conversation. Hence, it is advisable to keep your message short, crisp and to the point.
When writing a follow-up email, first determine the objective of your email. Do you seek more information, do you want to request a meeting, or do you just want to thank them? Open your email with the context of where and how you met, and mention your previous conversation topic. Finish the follow-up mail with a call to action text which will urge them to take the action you expect. For example, when you want to invite them for a meeting, add a QR code for your schedule and ask them to set up the meeting on your schedule.
6 - Know when to quit
Remember not to send any follow-up emails on the weekend or on Monday. People tend to check their mail less often on the weekends, and if you send it on a Monday then there’s a chance that your mail will get buried under the important emails in their inbox. Send the follow-up message at a convenient time when the individual is more likely to read the message. In case you do not receive a reply for your first email, you can send a reminder email after 3-5 days to check if they received the original email.
If you don’t receive a response to your third email, wait for another week and send another follow-up email. If you don’t receive a response via email, you can try reaching out to them via LinkedIn. Make sure the person is active on LinkedIn before sending out a message to them via LinkedIn.
However, if all your messages go unanswered, it’s better not to send any more follow-up emails or it may end up irritating the individual. You can take the cue and simply end your attempt with a “Thank You for your time. It was a pleasure meeting you” note. If your efforts go unanswered, then it’s probably better to quit and invest your time in prospects who are mutually interested in knowing about your business.
7 - Stay connected
Keep tabs on the people you network with. Understand what kind of content people in your network might be interested in and share relevant content via your social media channels. You can engage with them on social media by liking, sharing and commenting on the content they share.
You can also set up calls to catch up about industry news for contacts you’ve met at least twice or the ones who have chosen to stay in touch with you. Another great way to stay connected is to congratulate them on birthdays, new jobs, or promotions.
You don't typically see the true benefits of attending a networking event at the event. The real value of networking is found in following up correctly and consistently. Always follow up within 24 hours via email and connect on LinkedIn. Keep your initial communications short. Set up a one-on-one meeting where appropriate. Stay connected with relevant notes and content. And just as importantly, know when to stop. A sustained follow up effort will lay the foundation for a solid professional network.
A storyteller and an enthusiast marketer, our guest author Sneha Mittal is the marketing and customer service manager for SuperSaaS Online Appointment Booking System, a scheduling system for businesses of all sizes. Sneha is a foodie and wanderluster who pens her thoughts on her blog. She specializes in marketing, business development, and productivity and helps entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.