Frustrated with the online application process?
I don’t blame you! Lengthy applications with repetitive questions, resume uploads that don’t pre-populate application fields correctly, and getting an auto-generated “not interested” response or getting no response at all after all that time and effort is enough to discourage anyone knee-deep in a job search.
Career services experts will recommend networking over online job applications every time, but the key to networking isn’t in attending the event (Although, that’s the obvious first step!). The key to networking is in the follow-up strategy.
Following-up after networking is where you’ll see the results of your networking efforts. The most common networking mistake is to forget to collect business cards or contact information from the people you meet. The second most common networking mistake is to only follow-up once.
Here are the four ways you can follow-up after a networking event and develop a long-term professional relationship with others in your field.
Follow-up by LinkedIn
Embrace technology and use the business card or contact information you received to find your new networking connection on LinkedIn. Send a connection request as soon as possible (even at the event if you can!), and add a note or personalize your invite to give context to your connection request. You can mention meeting at the networking event or something memorable from your conversation to help him or her connect the dots.
Continue to develop a mutually beneficial networking relationship through LinkedIn private messages. Feel free to share updates about your job search, but don’t let that be the primary focus of your continued conversations.
Consider endorsing any skills you’ve witnessed on his or her profile. Engage with his or her posts in the news feed. Refer relevant job leads if they come up and you know that he or she is on the lookout for something different.
Follow-up by Email
If he or she can’t be found on LinkedIn, you can send an email to follow-up after a networking event. Keep in mind that a business email address may have more strict SPAM filters and are monitored closely by employers. If you can, send follow-up emails to a personal email address so you can more freely encourage a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.
The key to an effective follow-up email is to mention the networking event or something memorable from your conversation, continue a conversation you had at the event, and prompt a response by asking a question that keeps the conversation going. Discuss each others’ career goals, ask about projects he or she is working on, and offer to help when possible.
Find ways to be a giver, not just a taker, in a networking relationship.
Follow-up by Phone Call
You can also follow-up after a networking event by phone call or when you want to grow the networking relationship offline. This is the best strategy when you want to schedule an informational interview or initiate a mentoring relationship. Don’t anticipate long, meaningful discussions over the phone unless you take the time to foster a closer networking relationship or friendship.
You can become a mentor naturally by offering to meet up for coffee or lunch if he or she is new to your field. Take an interest in their struggles, answer their questions, and give helpful advice when asked. You can also call to request a meeting with an industry leader to ask about his or her career journey, the role he or she holds, the company he or she works for, and the advice he or she would give someone in your position.
Struggling to organize and stay consistent with your follow-up efforts? This Follow-up Planner will help!
Follow-up by Handwritten Note
Handwritten notes are great gestures to make when following-up after a networking event. A handwritten note is less likely to get a response than a LinkedIn message, email, or phone call because they are less convenient so make it easy to respond by including your phone number or email address in the note.
Consider sending a handwritten note to show gratitude if he or she has been helpful to you. A handwritten note is appropriate when thanking him or her for advice given or a job lead even if you didn’t get a job offer.
I challenge you to get organized with your networking efforts and follow-up promptly!
What does your networking follow-up plan look like?