Did you go to a networking event and get someone’s card? Did you just get home from an interview you think you aced? Did you go to a panel event and hear awesome speakers?
Now the important question. Did you follow up?
In an age where contact information is so readily available, there are no excuses not to follow up. Here are some tips for doing it right.
1. Follow up in 48 Hours or Less
No, it doesn’t make you seem desperate. It shows you are interested! The longer you take the follow up, the more likely the person you’re excited to connect with will forget about you. Timeliness is key. For interviews, I recommend within 12-24 hours. Of course there are exceptions, like events on the weekends, when it’s more acceptable to wait until Monday to follow up (although you might be beat out by people who followed up sooner).
2. Write a Draft Email as Soon as You Can
You were out late after the company party where you met your dream mentor. It may not be the best idea to send an email at 1:09am, but you can write yourself a draft so you remember something cool you talked about and the email address. This way you can fix it up and send it out first thing in the am.
3. Touch Base on Multiple Platforms
Everyone will expect an email. But what else can you do to show you’re interested in keeping in touch? Follow the person and company on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or comment on their Instagram post from the event saying it was great meeting them. When you’re doing these things, of course make sure that your profiles are up-to-date, appropriate, and that you have a link in your bio where they can learn more about you. Just don’t be that creeper that does all the above and adds them on Facebook (not appropriate!).
4. Write a Note in About How You Met
Sometimes you may meet a slew of people at once. Maybe you went to a big conference or networking event where you met as many cool fellow attendees as you did speakers or recruiters. To ensure you keep track of all the people you meet, when you add their email address to your contacts, fill in the notes section. LinkedIn also has a notes section you can fill in after you’ve connected. It can be as simple as “Fashion blogger met at Twitter Panel.” It takes five seconds and is worth it.
5. Set Up an Alert to Follow up Later
Let’s face it, lots of interesting people you will try to connect with are super busy; speakers on panels, higher ups at your company, the dean of students at your school. There is a chance they may not answer your email. If that happens, don’t be discouraged. Set up an alert to hit them up another way in the next couple of weeks or so. Shoot another email, mention them in a tweet or reblog them on Tumblr. It’s a great way to show you really want to connect. You can also use a tool like Streak or Boomerang to help you remember to follow up.
6. Include Something that Will Continue the Conversation
If you met someone you’d really like to forge a relationship with, make sure you help it along by including something in your follow up to get the conversation going. Did you talk to someone about their internship program? Let them know you plan to apply. Did you meet someone whose accomplishments you really admire? Ask if they have time to meet for coffee or if you can interview them for your blog. Did you see someone totally inspiring at a panel or conference? Send them a link to your blog post re-cap and ask if they have anything to add.
Making new friends, connections, and expanding your network is extremely important no matter what phase of your career you are in. You may not hear back from everyone you meet and want to connect with, so be sure not to be overly sensitive. The one thing to remember: you won’t hear from a single person you don’t reach out to in the first place.
Do you have any cool experiences or tips about reaching out to folks? Share them in the comments.