Follow-Ups: The MAKE or BREAK of Networking

Published: November 19, 2013

Jaymin – we loved having you on campus and we’re excited to have you back this year!  Your positive energy and extensive experience resonated with the students and they raved about your presentation for the weeks to follow.

Jamie Elwell, Director, Career Development, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

Follow-up notes are absolutely crucial to effecting networking – especially when you’re interested in turning those contacts into opportunities!  Your written communication absolutely HAS to be Rockstar level if you want to advance your relationship with your contact.  Don’t slip up!

First of all… why are you writing a follow-up?  If you’ve met someone (at a conference, networking event, on a plane – wherever!) then you need to follow-up on that contact and ensure you’ve achieved their Support.  This is the Rockstar sign-post that they will help you achieve your career goals.  So, when you follow-up, follow these 5 simple rules:

1.) Make it quick – send your emails within 24 hours!  Anyone you meet will likely have other people also following up with them (depending on just how influential they are) and they also will have other work to put their mind-share towards.  They will begin to forget your interaction in a few days, so don’t delay, send the note!

2.) Be mindful of the clock – its important to respect private time – don’t send your email after 9pm or before 8am… leave those as personal non-work times.  Many people receive email notifications on their smart phone, nobody wants to receive an email at 1am!  You might write your emails at the end of the day, but wait until the next morning to send them.

3.) Never copy/paste emails – Recruiters and Influential Individuals talk.  Its very likely they will find out you sent the exact same note to another person, and they sure wont be happy about it.  If you’re truly interested in landing your dream job, then take the 3-5 extra minutes it takes to write a genuine, original note.  Also, some email clients will transfer over the formatting of copy/pasted text creating multiple fonts/sizes of text in your email – a clear sign that you copy/pasted.  This is ultimately your reputation on the line, so don’t risk it!

4.) Jog their memory – refer back to specific points that were discussed to helped them remember who you were.  If you met them on a plane, maybe they had 2 flights that connected and you were only on one of them.  If you met them at a conference, they probably met a few dozen or hundred others “at the event last night”.  Be more specific so they know who you are.  Refer back to what you talked about or where/when you met (e.g. “by the dessert table”)

5.) Make a clear and specific request – what do you want from your contact? Would you like a quick catch-up in the coming weeks to continue the conversation?  I recommend asking for 10-15 minutes of time on their calendar to really solidify your relationship and make “the ask.”  Phone dialogue is much more personal than an email request.  Influential Individuals are also more likely to respond to your request when they are speaking to you and you have their complete attention.

Too often, we collect business cards and then wait to write a note… sometimes upto a week!  And yes, there are those of us who have copy/pasted an email too.  Hopefully, we all will follow the Rockstar Approach and never go back to those days again!

Especially when the doors of opportunity are flung wide open for you… this is the MAKE or BREAK of networking, make it happen like a ROCKSTAR!

Rock On!