For some odd reason, in personal and business life, people come up short on the art of the follow up. What do I mean by that? It’s simple. When you meet someone and exchange information, then you or the other person follows up with one another. Here is where disconnect originates. Too many people go to events to “connect” but never connect after–one, two, three or more weeks later.
It’s all a show and dance of introducing yourself at networking events… “Oh, hi! My name is (insert name here), I run or work for (yada) business. What do you do?” Then you repeat a different version of the same thing back to them. A majority of the time there is meaningless interaction or sly way of handing out a business card. There is no actual connection made in the process. It’s not your fault if you do this, it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do.
The mistakes lie in being genuine. It takes a lot to genuinely want to know a person for more than what company they own and whom they can connect you to. One of my mentors speaks on the importance of social capital all the time. Many people have a Rolodex of contact information, but do not have actual connections with those people. Let’s go over how you can actually build social capital with individuals plus follow up at the same time.
Stop Going to Parties ONLY To Leverage
Too many times people attend conferences, events and seminars only to see whom they can leverage out of everyone attending. Yes, it is smart to see who else is attending so one can connect on a more social level. However, it’s important that you’re not ONLY attending these events so that you can leverage. We live in a society that tends to use people as leverage. If a person doesn’t look like they can help “the Leverage-r,” they are ignored for most of the night. I have gone to events where people write others off then later find out so and so is an owner of a Venture Capitalist firm or the senior editor at a magazine. As a matter of fact, one of my good friends is a magazine editor and she never leads with that. She prefers people to connect with her on a personal level, not as leverage.
Stop asking people what they do for a living 5 seconds into meeting them
It is literally the rudest thing possible to ask a question that indicates how much money a person makes. There are a variety of questions you can lead with that can get you into a career related conversation.
- What brought you to this event tonight?
- Are you friends with the host?
- Ask about any current events.
- Lead with a compliment.
- Ask about their day.
These are all simple and easy ways to start a conversation. Anyone who asks me in 5 seconds what I do for a living is really not great at networking. They’re also using leverage to see if I am worthy of having a conversation.
Business Card Exchange
First, always have business cards with you. I carry a minimum of 50 cards with me at all times. If I am attending a conference or event, I have over 100 cards with me. After you have an insightful conversation with someone, ask for a business card. “Hey loved chatting with you, would love to catch up more with you outside of this event. Do you by chance have a card with you?” After I exchange cards with most people I tend to write where I meet them on their card and what they were wearing. This helps me remember where I met them when I am emailing them later.
Follow Up within 72 hours
This is very vital to networking correctly. Think about how many events you attend in a given week. Now, think about all the individuals you connect with during those times. That is a lot of people when you really start thinking about it. I generally follow up the same night that I meet them because it is fresh in my mind how we meet and where we met. A general rule of thumb should be to follow up in a 72-hour window. This gives you three days to connect with the individuals you meet. It also gives you time to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and much more.
In your email state how it was a pleasure meeting them at (insert event name) and then restate some points made in the conversation. Most people tend to talk verses actually listen, so it sets you apart. If you follow up, add a polite “nice meeting you” to close out the email and say that you look forward to seeing them again. Or, pose any questions you have like, “are you attending any events in the future?
If there was an actual connection where you want to know this person more, invite them for coffee or out to happy hour. I suggest an invite for coffee. State that you would like to know more about them and the business or company they work for.
It is important to genuinely want to connect with someone. Do not waste people’s time. Not everyone you give a card to or receive one will be a home-run-out-of-the-park connection, but that is perfectly fine. If you are not interested in knowing a person, a more polite “nice meeting you” at the event is enough.
I prefer genuine connections with people. That is how life long relationships are built.