Networking events are a part of the life of any business owner. And they can be incredibly valuable...if you know how to use them.
One of the struggles I consistently have is figuring out how to follow up and stay connected with individuals who were particularly valuable/engaging/fun in ways that makes sense and set me apart from others.
If I have this struggle, I imagine some of you do as well. So here is a list of some of the best ways other people have followed up with me, and I now try to replicate when it makes sense.
- Simple card or note. Not exactly original, but if you have a particularly personal note inside, it is still memorable. I have a stack of cards that are always on my desk so I can shoot off a note to people I meet with.
- Send a book. Neely Tamminga with DISTILL did this for me; she sent me a book by Jon Acuff that she particularly enjoyed. This was a particularly memorable follow-up, and we now have something to talk about anytime we interact. Not practical for every connection, but a great option for those few connections that you find particularly valuable.
- Name them in social media. This can be as small as tagging them in a new post, or as significant as doing a video with pieces of your conversation as the focus (maybe get permission!). This shows you value your exchange and also gives them some visibility.
- Invite them to an event with you. You met at a networking event, so it stands to reason they are looking for more networking opportunities. A friend from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal did this for me, and it gave us a chance to interact on top of the great feeling of being thought of.
- Connect them to someone else. You may not be a potential client of theirs, but if you can connect them to a possible client or someone who can generally help them, they won't forget it. Don from Evolve did this for me recently, and now I am particularly aware of people who may need the services they offer.
- Grab coffee. This is a standard for a reason. Be sure to have a reason for coffee, and if you don't, wait until you do. You want this to be a positive experience. Maybe bring that potential connection to the meeting and use it as a chance to introduce them in person. Where possible, make the coffee date as convenient for the other as you can.