Sunday, November 6, 2016

1:06 AM

For networking and making professional connections with others in your field, there are events at which people become fast friends and often make plans to work together after the event is over; but very few follow up on those conversations and new relationships. There are a lot of reasons for this: a business card is lost, the day to day of work is a constant distraction, etc. Here are a few tips that you can follow to help you make the most of your new professional relationships and connections after networking events and gatherings instead of letting them slip through your fingers.

Building Strong Professional Relationships after Networking Events

Use the App!

Many conferences and conventions are using live engagement event apps to help facilitate feedback and networking among attendees. These apps often allow users to save information that is traded via the apps to their mobile devices/cloud servers. And some event organizers even keep the app live for a few weeks or even a few months after the event to give attendees a chance to go back over their conversations and feedback and grab contact info, continue conversations, etc. Don’t skip the app. Love the app.

Take Photos

There are a bunch of “capture apps” that you can download that will help you capture business card information. These are great tools and if you have one you love you should use it. You should also take photos! Take a photo of the card and the person to whom that card belongs (if they consent to being photographed, of course). This gives you a backup of the card you import. It also helps you put a face to the name. This is very handy for people who are more visual learners and people who are great with faces but not with names (and vice versa, if you will see them at future events).

Schedule Time to Follow Up

Schedule an hour or two on your first day back at work to send follow up emails to each of your new connections. These emails do not have to be complicated or long. A simple “It was really great to meet you and talk about [insert detail of your conversation if you can remember it]. I’m looking forward to connecting with you again!” is more than sufficient. The basic rule of thumb is to include a quick reminder of who you are, what you talked about, and what is, essentially, a call to action. Doing this immediately will help cement the meeting for the other person as well as for yourself. It also opens the door to regular communications.

See Them Again

If your new contact lives in your same city (or close by), invite that person out for coffee or lunch to rehash the event and what you each got out of it. You don’t have to do this right away, but generally try to at least set up a time and date for this within a couple of weeks after the event.

If the person does not live close enough to make a “coffee date” possible, set up a time to talk on the phone or video conference via Skype or Face Time. The idea is to have a real time conversation and to not limit your communications to emails. Remember, you want to build relationships with these people, not just be able to drop their names.

Social Media is Your Friend

Connect with your new network on as many social media platforms as possible. And here is the key: Do not limit your social media connections to professional pages and accounts. Invite them to follow your personal accounts and ask if you can follow theirs. This helps strengthen the relationship over time and gives everyone the opportunity to get to know each other over time instead of trying to stuff the getting to know you sessions into personal emails or meeting times.

Schedule Follow Ups

Even if you don’t connect on a personal level, you’ll still want to maintain a good professional relationship. The best way to do this is to schedule time to “follow up” with them on ideas, older emails, and their current projects. Do not talk about yourself in these messages. Instead talk about what they are working on. Offer to help them out if you have compatible skills. Whatever you do, do not let the connection fall into “whose turn is it to email?”

These are just a few of the ways you can make sure that you make real connections instead of superficial ones. What’s your favorite way to turn the event-specific connections into real network colleagues?