So you networked, delivered a stellar elevator pitch, and got the business card. How do you take it to the next level? Establish a foundation? Create a business relationship, or even a friendship?
Like dating, business relationships need to be finessed. While you may not wait by your iPhone for a call or a text, you may experience similar feelings of anxiety over not wanting to come across too eager, impolite, or forward. But the truth is, the 3-day rule just doesn’t apply when it comes to business follow up.
After a successful networking event, I usually have 3-5 business cards of people who I really want to follow up with. Sometimes I’ll walk away from an event with just one card, sometimes I may have more (here’s looking at you, Board of Trade cocktail mingler). However, it’s always best to follow up with people who you have a genuine interest in pursuing a business relationship with (and realistically, you should be in possession of their card for that very reason. Remember, networking is not a competition to see who can collect the most business cards!).
My tips for crafting the perfect follow up email:
1. Be authentic. Speak with your own voice. Know your audience. Following up with a potential client or employer should sound different than following up with a potential yoga buddy or fellow foodie.
2. Make reference to how you met or a shared anecdote from the event. In the event that the recipient of your email doesn’t have the same stellar memory you have, a quick reminder goes a long way in re-establishing your connection.
3. Style and grammar are paramount. No exclamation points. Avoid over-zealous use of adverbs and adjectives. Even if it was “sooooo fabulous to meet you!!!!” -keep your tone professional, polite, and mature.
4. Suggest a follow up meeting. This could be a request for an informational interview if your objective is job searching or career advice; or it could be an invitation to coffee, lunch, or another networking event. Just remember – be respectful of the recipient’s time and resources.
5. And finally, maintain communication – diarize follow ups in your calendar or smart phone so that you stay top of mind with people you want to draw into your orbit.