• awkwardnetworker

Nail the Follow-up

It’s almost 2018, which means there are a dozen different channels to initiate a follow-up meeting after a networking event.  For purposes of this post, I’m going to focus solely on email, but first here are a few thoughts on the other standard communication vehicles.

Absolutely connect on Linkedin.  Find the person.  Connect with them, and add a simple note.

Pros:  (1) There’s no likelihood of your message being caught in an email spam folder.  (2) You can already see if you have contacts in common.  (3) Most professionals receive substantially fewer Linkedin messages than emails, making your follow-up message more visible.

Cons: (1) Some executives still have inactive Linkedin accounts, which means they may never read your message.  (2) Your message length is limited, unless you subscribe to a Premium membership.  (3) Culturally, email is still the preferred method of communication for organizing and planning follow-up meetings.

I typically refrain from calling someone after a networking event.  I know some people disagree with me.

“No, I always pick-up the phone and call someone the day after I meet them to schedule a follow-up.  It shows initiative.” ~ My sales friends

If you noticed my quotation attribution, you’ll see why I stay away from immediate phone calls.  It feels too “salesy”.

In 2017, a phone call feels like an aggressive move for an interaction that should be otherwise pretty relaxed.  If someone calls me the day after a networking event, I automatically assume the person is looking to sell me something.  Not always the case, but first impressions are important.

Also, ew, phones?  Does anyone use those anymore?  #millennials

Unless the person specifically says “follow me” or “friend me”, I’d wait on this one.  Assuming you attended a professional networking event, I would avoid friending people on more informal/personal social networks.

That said, if his/her profile isn’t private, definitely do a little fb stalking for fun.  Just promise me something.  During your follow-up meeting, don’t mention any details you’ve uncovered during your social media investigations.

“Oh, cool!  And did you start your new role before or after you spent that week in Puerto Vallarta with your smokin’ hot friends?”

…OK, let’s move-on to our main event.  Email.  Here are a few basics to keep in mind while crafting those tantalizing follow-up emails the day after a networking event.  At the end, I include an email template you can copy/paste to get started.

1. Provide dates

You know that “let’s grab lunch soon” friend?  Every time you pass each other in mixed company, one of you insists you two should “totally catch-up” soon, but you never do.  Then you have that other friend that randomly texts you and says, “Hey, I’m working near you all next week and free for lunch Tues or Thurs.  Can you meet up?”

After you and that second friend have a great lunch and stay BFFs, take a moment to appreciate the great lesson this second friend taught you.  It’s my first rule for follow-up email success.  Pick specific dates.

People are far more likely to say yes, when all they have to do is say “yes”.  The more homework and decision-making you interject, the less likely this meeting will ever transpire.

“Are you free for lunch the week of X?  Maybe Y Restaurant, since it’s closer to your office?” will get you much further than “Would you be interested in lunch some time soon?”

2. Include specifics from your conversation

Pretty self-explanatory.  You want the email recipient to remember who you were.  Take a minute to remember something specific about the recipient, and incorporate that nugget in your email.

Good examples:

“Any friend of Phil Jones is a friend of mine.”

“It’s always great meeting successful people from my alma mater.”

“If I don’t hear from you before the weekend, I hope you enjoy your mini getaway!”

 Not-so-good examples:

“I was wearing a blue shirt.”

“Hope you got home safe after all th