Tip for following up: networking etiquette to increase response rates

So you’ve attended a great event and made a few contacts. What’s the best way to follow up to ensure that you keep the conversation going? Here are some top tips for next steps:

Timing is of the essence

This is not a date, there’s no 3-day rule, in fact, the longer you wait the greater the chance you’ll be forgotten. Warmth and excitement are best capitalised on right away. Strike while the iron is hot and connect on Linkedin or send an email the next day while your conversation is still in front of mind.

Subject message matters

The recipient of your email might not recognise your email so add a subject line that helps them identify your email as not spam. Something like ‘Great meeting you at the BAFTA’s’ gives location and context and reason to open your email.

Stand out

There might have been a lot of people at the event you were at so help your contact remember you by specifying what you spoke about. Something like ‘I really enjoyed speaking with you about the challenges with financial opportunities for dance companies in Scotland, at the event, last night’ will help give context to the reader and remember you so that they know how best to respond. Give them a reason to reply and keep the conversation going so that you can continue to have touch points to build a genuine relationship.

Relationship building

Not every contact needs to be useful right this minute. Some folk are worth keeping warm in your database because you like them or they know relevant people or they might one day be helpful to you. But not having a clear short term ask doesn’t mean that you can lock them away and not be in touch until they’re of use to you. Establish a friendly rapport and a reason for keeping in touch. Maybe you discussed a project you’re working on and they gave you some good advice that you can apply. If it worked, follow up with them with an update and let them know. Having a genuine reason to get in touch is ideal and keeps the relationship warm and developing.

An offer is always better than an ask

It’s always great to hear from someone when they have a relevant introduction or something useful to offer, rather than just when they need something. Be the person paying into the favour bank unsolicited and know that the universe will pay you back. One day when you need a favour, the bank will owe you.

Ask when it matters

When you do have a really relevant ask, don’t miss the opportunity to ask the right person. But do it in person and do it well. Don’t ask someone you’ve just met for something as it sours the sincerity of the relationship. Give the relationship time to form and use that time to learn more about your contacts and how you can be of use to them and vice versa. Endear yourself to them and build a genuine relationship.

But when you’re ready to ask for something, arrange to meet in person and come prepared. Be clear with what you’re asking for and don’t take the piss, (or at least own up to taking the piss if you need to) If the relationship is good and the ask is reasonable usually, your contact will oblige if they are in a position to do so.

Always say thank you

Always, always, always be appreciative and kind. Nobody has to do favours for you, or give their time to you. Make sure you send a thoughtful thank you and sincerely appreciate the effort they’ve volunteered. It will serve you well in the long term for your contacts to feel loved. If they give you advice or make an introduction for you, give them an update on how the application of the advice went or what happened when you met their contact. This is a show of respect and consideration and as ever is another relevant touchpoint for keeping the dialogue moving forward and will be appreciated by the contact.

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