It’s well understood that networking events are a crucial tool for job seekers. They make you more visible to potential employers and help to keep you active within your industry. However, simply showing up to an event and passing out business cards won’t do the trick if you want to make a lasting impression. Instead, use these techniques to maximize your impact at an industry gathering:
Follow-up with a quick e-mail
The purpose of a networking event is to meet a large volume of people in a short amount of time. However, because of this, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd if you don’t make it a point to stand out. The day after a networking event, send e-mails to the contacts you met referencing a conversation you had. Make it easy for them to remember who you are. For instance, if you talked about a new movie you’re both excited to see, mention the film. You don’t necessarily have to ask to get together, but now is a great time to do so. Ask to grab a quick cup of coffee next week. Something informal with a limited time commitment makes it easy for your new contact to say yes.
Create a way to stay organized
It’s easy to stay in touch for the first few weeks after a networking event, but as life gets busy you may forget about the connections you made. Over time, they start to fizzle, then fade out completely. To prevent this from happening, develop a system that makes it easy to check in regularly with your connections. This may be a spreadsheet, or perhaps a calendar where every three weeks you make a note to e-mail a connection just to say hello. This prevents too much time from passing without dropping in, keeping your relationships strong.
Networking has earned a bad reputation as a way to use people, only contacting them when you need something. In reality, when done properly, networking is all about building genuine relationships. To be a successful networker, you should be in touch regularly, not just when you could use a favor. Mark down your contacts’ birthdays. Know when their children hit major milestones. When these events come up, reach out and congratulate them or wish them well. This takes the relationship from “what can you do for me?” to a genuine friendship.
Be more focused on giving help than receiving it
If you develop a connection solely because you think the other person can help you, you’ll develop a negative reputation in your industry. Instead, place your focus on helping others as much as you can. Offer assistance more than you ask for it. This will make others more inclined to connect with you, which allows you to develop a strong network over time.
How do you maximize your time after attending a networking event? Share your tips with us!