Follow-up After A Networking Meeting
by Judy Acord, CCC, CPRW, CT
Not long ago, this column, in pursuit of a smooth job search, outlined the fine points of networking to include: generating and nurturing a relationship and trading information of value. In the nurturing department, precisely what kind of follow-up is appropriate after a networking meeting?
Don’t forget, when you ask for information and set up an appointment with a person “in the know,” that the agenda of the networking meeting should be drawn up ahead of time by you and that you guide the meeting with your questions and input. And of course, before you leave, you ask if there are any additional people you should call on for any other related information.
That done, how do you follow-up with the initial contact? How do you keep the line of communication open so that when a hot piece of information comes across the desk of one of your network folks, that person will let you know about it?
Follow up is done most efficiently by phone! Within a week is best in order to have your meeting fresh in the contact’s mind. Ideal times are first thing in the business day or after 5 p.m. And it is appropriate to leave a message in voice mail, though personal contact would be much more valuable to you. The substance of the conversation/message might be thanks for time and expertise, thanks for referrals to three other persons, and any feed back from those persons to the initial contact.
Additionally, a tidbit of information with potential value to your contact is prime material to convey as well as the results from any meetings you’ve had with his/her referrals. But - don’t get too long winded. Make it succinct. Plan ahead what you will say.
When you do talk to you contact or to his/her voice mail, it might be necessary to remind the contact of your meeting, the substance of it, a date, perhaps. Don’t put your contact in a corner by asking, “Do you remember me?”
Do you prefer drafting a letter to follow-up on a networking meeting? That also works fine too. This could be an opportunity to include a relevant news article or information from research you have done - exchanging information of value to the other person. A formal letter is not mandatory.
Personal connection is, however, your best bet. Keep in mind that communication should be made approximately every six weeks, with two to three months being about the limit. Any longer and your contact will be wondering what you are doing and may assume you have made no progress worth reporting.
Be sure and prioritize your follow-up.
1) Contacts - to whom you have made promises.
2) Proximity contacts - such as friends, relatives and colleagues who should be kept current with your progress.
3) Perspective contacts - those in the information flow with the potential for active intervention on your behalf.
4) Power contacts - people of whom you can ask a favor. And
5) Distant contacts - those to whom you want to maximize market exposure and minimize your time spent in this pursuit.
Have you developed a log where you track your communications with your contacts so that you know when to get back to them and with what information?
Networking has sometimes been described as a labor-intensive activity, but national research also shows that networking is the number one effective way to find a job! While networking may sometimes seem like more work than going to work, it is a tried and true method to find your next job and should dominate your time. Yes, look at ads and on the Internet. Think about recruiters and make some cold calls. But spend the majority of your efforts networking.
• Prime Resource for this article is the book: Networking, Douglas B. Richardson, National Business Employment Weekly.
Judy Acord is a Certified Career Counselor, Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a Certified Trainer, supported with an MBA. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.