There are networking opportunities everywhere, whether you’re at a trade show, conference or chatting with someone on your commute. You need to make the most of every opportunity because you never know who you might meet! Here are eight actionable do’s and don’ts for following up with someone in a professional way after you’ve connected.
1. Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn in a timely manor by including a personal note on where you met him or her and something you may have discussed. For example, “It was great meeting you at the ABC Event. I’d like to keep in touch about the possible partnership we were chatting about.”
2. Follow up via email to business cards you collected, and remember to personalize the messages. Let people know ahead of time you’ll be sending an email and have their permission; otherwise your email may be viewed in a negative light.
3. Try to follow up in a timely fashion, usually within a few days to a week of the event. It will help keep you top of mind of your potential clients or business partners.
4. Go the extra mile about how your businesses or connection can be mutually beneficial when you do reach out to someone. Take the time to research and understand what his or her company does, if you don’t know already. Consider extending an offer for a free demo or information session.
5. Set a limit to the amount of communication. Do some testing to see the optimal amount of touches that it takes to connect with someone. Refine your cadence and amount of outreach accordingly.
6. Keep your first email brief. Having to wade through long paragraphs of text could turn off a potential business partner. The purpose of the initial message should be to re-establish a connection. You can go into greater detail once you set up a meeting or call.
7. Include your LinkedIn profile link (personal or business) within your email signature to make it easy for people to connect with you.
8. “Like” a business you’re interested in on Facebook or Instagram, and follow that business on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you do, the business or owner may follow you back.
1. Don’t send a LinkedIn invite to every business card you collect. You should have a one-on-one meaningful conversation with someone before sending them an invitation to connect.
2. Don’t buy a list of event attendees and email them all. This would be a violation of the CAN-SPAM act. Also, it’s not the best way to start a professional relationship.
3. Don’t wait too long to follow up with a contact. Time flies after events and it’s easy to forget all of the people that you might have met.
4. Don’t go on about your company without understanding whether it’s a good fit for the company or contact you’re reaching out to.
5. Don’t call or email multiple times if you don’t get a response. The last thing you want to do is make your contacts feel uncomfortable. Give them time to respond. If you don’t hear back, that’s a sign that you should be refocusing your attention elsewhere.
6. Don’t forget to include a link to your website in your email.
7. Don’t have an unprofessional picture in your email signature or as your LinkedIn profile picture. Something as simple as a photo can establish trust.
8. Don’t start a private conversation on your public social media feed. If you’re hoping to collaborate or set up a call with someone you met, send them a Direct Message.
When in doubt, think about what kind of follow-up message you would like to receive. Before you send out that email or reach out on social media, look at what you’ve written and ask yourself if it would compel you to kick off a new business relationship. The way you communicate with a new contact can make or break a business relationship. Get into the habit of following up after networking and putting careful thought into what you say.
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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.
© 2019, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.