Last week we release part 2 of a 3 part series on the beginners guide about the power of networking written by one of our very own Mentors, andrewwalsh.co. Andrew’s article also appears on his website
Welcome to part three of this three-part series.
From part one, you’ve set clear networking objectives, a strategy to execute and completed the mental preparation to follow-through. Now, it’s time to network.
In part two, we will looked at the objectives, steps and tips to make the most out of a networking opportunity.
In part three we will look at the post networking follow-up and how to nurture your newly created connections.
C. Post-Networking Tasks & Follow-Ups
• Maintain momentum from each networking opportunity by connecting with new connections (online);
• Research new connections to gain greater understanding of each person; and
• Organise 1:1 catchups to develop relationships with new connections.
Steps & Tips
1. Write Down Notes – After the networking event spend 5 to 10 minutes writing down notes about your new connections. If you wrote notes during the event you may only need to spend a minute or two jotting down anything you missed. I suggest at a minimum creating an outlook contact for each person and put the more important notes into the contact file (e.g. married, number of kids, interests) so if you don’t have your notes with you, its still possible to access some information from your phone contacts. For more experienced networkers you may want to consider a system to keep all of this information – there are plenty of phone apps that do a lot of the work for you.
2. Contact Within The First 48 Hours – Its best to contact new connections within the first 48 hours while you are still fresh in their mind and you have the advantage of momentum. This is key if you want to maintain and build the connection, otherwise you are running the risk of the person completely forgetting about meeting you and the connnection goes cold.
3. Connect On LinkedIn / Email – Where a new connection is on LinkedIn and you should know because you asked, immediately connect with them as soon as you go home. If they aren’t on LinkedIn, send an email telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them. Either way I always send a message of thanks and it pays to mention a detail you wrote down about the conversation for that personal touch and help your new connection remember you. Also by sending a personalised message, you’re showing a sincere desire to build your new networking relationship. Depending on the person, I might also ask in the initial message if they would like to meet for coffee (see point 5 below).
4. A Thought On LinkedIn… Don’t Go Crazy On Connections – Your LinkedIn contacts are a reflection on you, and it’s implied that you’re vouching for someone’s skills by connecting. So just like you wouldn’t give just anyone a job reference, you also shouldn’t add contacts unless you are happy to be associated with them. Only add new connections you a comfortable with and are appropriate. What’s the point in being connected with hundreds of people that you have no relationship with and can add no value? The end game is to cultivate meaningful relationships where you help each other.
5. Catch-up…. Coffee? – One of the key aspects of networking is following up. There’s no point getting to know a person if you have no intention of staying in touch. Just like with friends, networking contacts require constant work to keep the relationship fresh and worthwhile. The easiest and most convenient way to catch up is over coffee. The ‘coffee catch up’ allows you the flexibility to have a short or long meeting depending on how things are going and can be done at practically any time of the day. For very busy contacts, it’s always a good idea to communicate a specific reason for meeting. Whether it’s to extend on the initial conversation to explore how you could help each other, or a more specific agenda. Remember, busy people with good networking skills will say no to your invite if your intentions are not clear.
6. Keep The First Catch-up Brief – There’s no need to let an introductory meeting with a new connection last longer than 30 minutes. It’s better to leave the conversation having something to talk about and feeling like you need to connect again rather than feeling that the energy’s died.
7. Networking Is A Long Term Game – This is a long term game as it takes time to build relationships and create a network. Don’t feel like there is any urgency to have it all done tomorrow. Take your time, learn and space it out rather than burn out! This will also allow you the proper time to focus on the relationships you have already established and take the time to invest in them.
8. Evaluate & Improve – Improvement in any skill only comes from evaluating your performance and seeing what went well and what needs improvement then making the appropriate changes. After each networking event put some time aside to review your performance – what worked and what didn’t? Which questions got you the best response from your connection? Which version of your elevator pitch worked the best? You can also consider getting yourself a good coach or mentor here. They can often fast-track your skill development and see things you can’t see.
This was certainly an “action packed” series!
If there was one key takeaway I would like you to remember, it is that good networking is about connection, when you genuinely connect, people remember you and welcome talking to you again. This is the start of building valuable professional relationships.
What is your networking tip? or what has brought you the most success when networking?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.