You went to a networking event, chatted with new contacts, and collected cards. Now what? There are multitudes of things you can do to make a personal and lasting impression past the first interaction. Now that you’ve done your due diligence in attending a networking event and connecting with peers, it’s time to begin the process of staying top-of-mind.
Here are 6 tips to get you past a one night networking stand and into long lasting business relationships.
- Connect on all levels: There is a great app powered by LinkedIn called Cardmunch. This is one of the best technology tools available for networking support. The app allows you to take a picture of a business card and it will instantly connect you with the person’s LinkedIn account. It doesn’t get simpler than that. I recommend doing this either the same day or the next day—it’s important to connect while the event is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Some may say that’s stalking. I say that’s business today. With so many different social outlets, it’s important to connect with new contacts on professional and significant sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow them to stay connected and to gain information. Building relationships takes time, effort and genuine interest. You wouldn’t wait a week to connect with a new interest on social sites; consider timely interaction with new business contacts as proper business courting.
- Get it on the calendar: Coffee, lunch, or drinks are preferred first methods of connection. Send an email to remind them how you met. Make sure to include an important fact about the person. We all love to know people were listening to us – details can be great conversation starters. Request a time to meet to learn more about them, their business, and how you can help one another. Pay attention to the latter—that is key.
- Introduce them to a beneficial connection: Do you know someone that may be in need of their services? Connect them. One of the best ways to gain the attention of others is by helping them. It doesn’t take a lot of time to be a connector. Super connectors are priceless in their power to connect other people.
- Send a note: Old-fashioned snail mail is now an underused source. It’s a unique, personal way to say thank you for meeting and re-send your business card. Snail mail goes a long way in setting yourself apart from the crowded World Wide Web. Personal, unique connections like this set you apart from ho-hum contacts.
- Top of Mind: Subscribe to Google alerts or their newsletters and congratulate them on their successes, new ventures, or even their recent quote in the paper. This is a great way to show genuine interest, demonstrate you’re in the know, and engage with them and their business.
- Reminders: Set your calendar up to remind you to contact your professional connections. I recommend a monthly reminder for contacts that are highly beneficial, 45 days for slightly beneficial and 60 days for everyone else. This will keep you on the right track to continue building your relationships.
By taking the time, researching each person and their company, and doing one, three or all of these tips, you’ll stay top of mind, guaranteed. Remember, everyone knows someone. Will an acquaintance think of you when asked if they know someone in your field? The best type of sales comes from referrals—word of mouth. The more connected you are, the more resources you have. It’s that simple.