Networking is a great way to make an initial introduction to other professionals in your field. However, following up after these initial connections are made can be challenging. Trade professionals make an abundance of new contacts through the course of their work. Recalling each and every one of them based on memory alone is next to impossible.
If you wish to develop and maintain quality business connections, it’s up to you to follow-up.
Developing a new business connection is the best way to expand future opportunities, for you and your business. In fact, according to a survey conducted by NowSourcing, 85% of professionals say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person meetings. Developing a new business connection is the best way to expand future opportunities. Thirty-eight percent of business owners said they have increased business opportunities through networking, according to a survey done by Connect Us Canada. Following up after networking is vital to build on those initial introductions and transition them into sales opportunities.
Here are five follow up tactics to help you build quality business relationships with new contacts after a networking event.
1 – Send a follow up email
Following up can be as simple as sending a quick email. If you were able to snag a business card from your new contact, writing them a quick note of thanks can go a long way to building a working business relationship.
According to a NowSourcing survey, 83% of employees now work remotely at least part of the time. An email is a much more reliable way to connect with someone, even if they are on the go.
The email should be sent within 24 – 48 hours of the networking event, ensuring your meeting will still be fresh in the mind of your contact.
In your email, mention the event at which you met, and make specific reference to the contents of the conversation you had. You should make the email personal to each contact. In your email, be sure to also include an invitation to connect again soon to continue your conversation, such as meeting for coffee at their next convenience. Since you are extending the invitation, be prepared to treat!
2 – Connect on LinkedIn
Take out the business cards you’ve collected and search each contact on LinkedIn. There are over 433 million users in over 200 countries on this professional networking site, so chances are good that your new contact has a profile. LinkedIn offers quite a few tools to stay in touch with your new contact. When sending out a connection request, be sure to include a personalized message – this has been proven to increase positive response rates.
Much like sending out a follow up email, make specific reference to the event at which you met as well as what you spoke about. If you’ve already sent them an email, keep this message brief and don’t rehash the same content. Once you’re connected, be sure to send a message through LinkedIn to thank them for connecting and to offer an open invitation to meet in the future. Forty percent of new prospects are converted to sales as a result of face-to-face meetings, according to NowSourcing.
3 – Phone them
Why not go the traditional route and give your new contact a call? A phone call can be a quick and easy way to connect with someone. It’s more personal than an email or a LinkedIn request, plus it can make you stand out from the crowd.
Thirty percent of business communication is done over the phone, according to a survey by RingCentral, so speaking with your new contact directly can help to foster that relationship.
Even if you’re unable to get ahold of them directly, write yourself a script and leave a quick message for your contact. Give them a phone number where you can be reached and thank them for taking the time to speak with you.
4 – Give them a hand-written card
If you want to be even more memorable, a hand-written note is a great option. According to a survey by AYTM Market Research, 80% of respondents said they appreciate receiving thank you notes from others, while 32% of respondents said it’s important to send a thank you card to show appreciation.
A hand-written note shows your new contact you valued your interaction with them and were willing to take the time to follow up on your meeting and continue the new relationship.
5 – Sharing valuable content
Sharing valuable content can be a great way to maintain open communication with your new contact. A study from Nielsen and AOL showed that 27 million pieces of content are shared everyday in the U.S. alone. Sharing interesting and relevant content is simple yet thoughtful way people interact and stay connected online.
The content can be anything from a blog post to an informative video. Be sure the content you are sharing has value to your new contact and is relevant to their field of work.
Taking the time to share relevant content with your contact shows your interest in their work, as well as your willingness to provide them with opportunities to grow their business.
It’s a great way to stay in touch over time, and will keep your relationship active, even when there is no current business between you.
These are just a few methods you can use to follow-up with a new contact after a networking event. These tactics can help you grow your professional network and foster future opportunities.
Be sure to put these tips into practice at Your Future in Global Markets international business conference in October, where you can boost your exporting business forward by connecting with other professionals from around the world to share insights, successes and lessons learned when working in global markets.