You have just been to a networking event. Hopefully you have made some great new contacts, and have come away fully armed with a fistful of business cards. But how do you turn these new contacts into truly useful business relationships?
If you really want your networking attendance to be as effective as possible, there is still some work to be done after the meeting. Here are 5 things you can do, to help make the most out of your networking experience:
1. Update your Contact List
If you don't already have one, set up a contact list. There are lots of great services to help you do this – check out the free version of Mailchimp. Make sure you update your database with the details of everyone you met at your networking event. Add a note about where you met them, and include any relevant comments about the nature of their business etc.
2. E-mail Contacts
It's a great idea to email any prospects, or interesting contacts as soon as you can. Don't wait to do this, or it will never happen. Pick the people you would like to meet again, or want to stay in touch with. Personalise the email: make mention of where you met them; and how much you enjoyed it. Chances are you will get a response, and a new business relationship can be formed.
3. Connect on Social Media!
Use business card details to search for the people you met on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Where your search throws up multiple people with the same name, check profiles for the website addresses and company names from their business cards, to ensure you ‘like' or ‘follow' the right person.
- On Twitter, once you have found the profile names of the people you met, it's a nice touch to send a tweet that @ mentions them, and refers to the meeting.
- On Facebook, look for their business pages and like them. They will hopefully like you back!
- Add your new contacts to your LinkedIn profile (make sure you personalise the message!). This will all start to build stronger connections between you and your contacts.
4. Pick up the Phone
As soon as you can after the meeting, call the people you really connected with, and arrange to meet over coffee. These might be people who are interested in doing business with you, or may simply be those you instantly hit it off with.
5. Take Stock
Are there things you need to do in your own business, that your new contacts can help you with? Do you need collaborators? Is it time to get your accounts filed, and tax return completed? Do you need business insurance, or legal advice? Chances are you've just met fellow professionals who can help you!
What follow up actions do you take after a networking meeting? What has worked best in forging useful business relationships?