This is it! Part III of III in our series on making the most of networking events. It may seem like your job is done once your heels are kicked off, but in order to make sure you squeeze every ounce of value from your event, be sure to take the following five actions.
1) Clean Up Your Handwriting: Remember last week’s tip about making quick notes on the back of the business cards you collected? Within 24 hours, go back through those cards and take a look at what you wrote. If you’re anything like me, you’ve managed to scribble those notes both upside down and backwards. Now’s the time to make sure your notes make sense, to fill in other details you may have neglected to mention, or to simply clear up your handwriting.
2) Show Appreciation: Another “to-do-within-24-hours” step – publicly thank your hosts. Write a short blog post about the event and send them a link, drop a thank you note on their Facebook wall and like their page, or else even give them a Twitter shout out and some #FF (Follow Friday) love. They’ll really appreciate the public endorsement of their event.
3) Calendarize: Those notes you took on the back of the business cards? Or even on that separate notebook you carried with you? Check out what sort of long term items you jotted down. Will you need to be sure Mr. Whoever gets an invitation to the holiday party in 4 months? Before you take care of the short term items, pull out your calendar and set reminders for the long term items.
4) Follow Up in 3 Steps: The first is to send a short email to your new contacts, expressing your pleasure at meeting them and perhaps even mentioning one or two personal items. Then, go ahead and add them to your LinkedIn connections. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Stop reading this right now and go set one up. As an addendum, note that this step should be taken within three days of the event.
The second is to assess what you promised to provide other people in the short term. Was it an introduction to a colleague your new connection wanted to meet? A resource from your firm that you were going to send them a copy of? Anything like that should be taken care of also within the first three days after the event. Get out of the way what you promised to offer to others.
The third step is to check up on who was going to provide you with something. This step should not be taken until about a week after the event. While it’s not the worst thing in the world to immediately email someone reminding them what they’d promised to do for you, it’s common courtesy to give them a little breathing room before you swoop in to demand something for yourself. After a week, go ahead and send your “long term” email, just pinging them about what they’d offered to get for you, and then of course thanking them again for the advice/introduction/information.
5) Assessment – Both You and the Event: I mentioned in Part I of this series that you should set goals for yourself in advance of the event. Give yourself a day or so, then go back to those goals. Did you accomplish what you meant to? Were you happy with the effort you made? Here’s a quick caveat for women in particular – it’s easy to focus on everything you didn’t do. “I didn’t meet ten people, only nine.” “Sure I did well, considering I was an idiot and forgot all my business cards.” Be sure to include the positives in your assessment!
The second part entails analyzing the event. Was it worth your time? Is it a regular event that you think you’d benefit from attending again? Do you have other friends you’d like to invite next time because you think this would be their type of crowd? Make a note on your calendar about any of the group’s next events that you think you’ll want to be sure not to miss out on.
Like so many other skills in the professional world, networking is easy to do and hard to do well. It’s up to you to ensure that the actions you’re taking and the time and energy you’re spending at events is truly useful for you both personally and professionally. Like these tips? Don’t forget to share them with your friends and work colleagues via the buttons below. And as always, if there’s a series or topic you’d like to see covered on our Professional Fridays series, feel free to tweet using the hashtag #Fem2JobQ and we’ll get you some answers!