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The right and wrong ways to follow up after networking events

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Yes, you need to follow up after every networking event. Otherwise, you’ll just be a forgettable face in a sea of other hopefuls looking to score that big interview. While almost any follow-up is better than no follow-up, there is a right and wrong way to go about the process. We’ll explain the best ways on how to follow up after a networking event and the not-so clever ways that may backfire.

Don’t: Send a generic connection invite on linkedIn

That prospective employer you shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with has had a near-identical meet-and-greet with 50 other people not unlike yourself. What makes you think you’re any more special than those other 50 people? The inconvenient truth is that you’re not; at least not if you do the usual handshake followed by handing out a business card and leaving it at that. If you then send out an equally generic LinkedIn invitation the next day, the employer has already forgotten about you.

Do: Make it personal

Make the event about quality rather than quantity. Focus on really getting to know 10 employers rather than 50. With those 10, though, really form a rapport by striking up a conversation during the event. The next day, when you add the employer as a LinkedIn connection, include a personal message that relates back to the conversation you had the other day. A personalized message may go like the following:

Hi employer name

I really enjoyed our conversation the other day and hope to get to know your agency a bit more. I believe I can be a valuable asset for the company. Do you remember our discussion about inbound marketing metrics? That made me realize I am a good fit since I have an extensive background in that field. I was hoping I can share with you some of my experience in targeted inbound marketing.

Don’t: Make the networking event all about you

Yes, network events are all about competition; it’s a dog-eat-dog endeavor where you need to stand out more than everyone else that’s there for the same reason as you. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t help out a fellow attendee. Don’t make it all about “me, me, me.” It’s a mistake to only speak and interact with the prospective employers and not the other guests.

This may send signals to employers that you’re only out for yourself. That is not good when you’re likely trying to get into a field that involves extensive teamwork and collaboration.

Do: Share other attendee information with employers

Yes, you heard that right. Follow up after networking event by sharing your newly acquired contacts. On the surface, this may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually helpful. At the event, speak and acquire contacts from other attendees. Find out what their backgrounds are and whether their professional specialties overlap with yours. This information may later become useful.

When you follow up the next day, don’t hesitate to pass along the information of some of these people. Let’s say you’re hoping to land a gig in graphic design for a marketing company. Perhaps you met someone at the event with an expertise in organic SEO marketing. When you contact the marketing company, send a personal message outlined in the previous step followed by a referral of that other person, sending his or her contact info.

This is a selfless move that helps out a fellow job seeker. It’ll also show to the employer that you’re considerate, which is an invaluable trait asset.

Don’t: Send multiple follow-ups

The employer will likely be bombarded with emails and social network invitations the day after the networking event. This already presents a troublesome logistical task of sorting out every contact. Employers need to decide which contact to follow up after networking event and which ones to ignore. The employer is not going to appreciate additional and unsolicited reach-outs from any single person. It just makes you come off as desperate.

Do: Follow up incrementally

There’s no hard rule on when to send the first follow-up. Within three days of the networking event is a good rule of thumb. Just send a single email and/or social network invite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a prompt response, but don’t count on it. Wait 48 to 72 hours before reaching out again. If you still get nothing after the third follow-up, then the employer is likely not interested; move on and don’t waste your and the employer’s time with needless additional emails. The employer may keep your information and reach out in the future if an opportunity opens up. Don’t ruin this potential prospect by repeatedly sending out follow-ups the employer doesn’t need nor want.

Knowing how to follow up after a networking event is a crucial skill that sets you apart from everyone else. Cultivate this skill, and you’ll make yourself a promising prospect among employers looking for the best recruits.

Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK.

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