8 do’s and don’ts of networking follow-up

Networking opportunities exist everywhere, whether you’re at a trade show, conference, or simply chatting with someone on your commute. You must seize every opportunity, as you never know who you will meet! Here are eight practical do’s and don’ts for following up professionally with someone after you’ve connected.

The Do’s

1. Send a timely invitation to connect on LinkedIn, including a personal note about how you met and what you discussed. For instance, “It was a pleasure to meet you at the ABC Event.” I’d like to stay in touch regarding the possible partnership we discussed.”

2. Follow up with business cards collected via email, making sure to personalize the messages. Notify individuals in advance that you will be sending an email and obtain their permission; otherwise, your email may be viewed negatively.

3. Make an attempt to follow up promptly, typically within a few days to a week of the event. It will assist in keeping you at the forefront of your potential clients’ or business partners’ minds.

4. When you do reach out to someone, go the extra mile in explaining how your business or connection can benefit both parties. Take the time to research and understand his or her company’s mission, if you are unfamiliar with it. Consider extending an invitation to a complimentary demonstration or information session.

5. Establish a communication cap. Conduct some testing to determine the optimal number of touches required to establish a connection with someone. Appropriately adjust your cadence and level of outreach.

6. Keep your initial email succinct. Confronting a potential business partner with lengthy paragraphs of text may turn them off. The initial message’s purpose should be to re-establish a connection. You can elaborate further once you’ve scheduled a meeting or phone call.

7. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile (personal or professional) in your email signature to encourage people to connect with you.

8. “Like” a business on Facebook or Instagram and follow it on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you do, the business or proprietor may pursue you.

The Don’ts

1. Do not invite every business card you collect to LinkedIn. Before sending someone an invitation to connect, you should have a meaningful conversation with them one-on-one.

2. Avoid purchasing a list of event attendees and mass emailing them all. This would constitute a violation of the federal CAN-SPAM act. Additionally, this is not the optimal way to initiate a professional relationship.

3. Do not wait an excessive amount of time to follow up with a contact. Time flies after events, and it’s easy to forget about everyone you met.

4. Do not continue talking about your company without first determining whether it is a good fit for the company or contact you are contacting.

5. Do not call or email repeatedly if you do not receive a response. The last thing you want to do is create an uncomfortable situation for your contacts. Allow time for them to respond. If you do not receive a response, it is a sign that you should redirect your efforts elsewhere.

6. Don’t forget to include a hyperlink in your email to your website.

7. Avoid using an unprofessional photograph as your email signature or LinkedIn profile photo. Trust can be established through something as simple as a photograph.

8. Avoid initiating a private conversation on a public social media platform. Send a Direct Message to someone you met if you’d like to collaborate or arrange a call.

When in doubt, consider the type of follow-up message you want to receive. Before you send that email or make that social media connection, take a look at what you’ve written and consider whether it would compel you to initiate a new business relationship. Your communication style with a new contact has the potential to make or break a business relationship. Develop the habit of following up following networking events and putting thought into what you say.

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