So you’ve gone to a networking event and connected with a few people. Good job! But what do you do next? Read on to find out how to follow up with leads and the dos and don’ts of maintaining and building connections after that first exchange.
Don’t immediately ask for a favor.
Networking is important because often those connections you make can be a benefit to you at some point. However, theses connections are in fact relationships and require a two way effort to thrive. That means you don’t just make a connection to get something, you need to give a little too. Asking for a favor or what your new connection can do for you right away is a bad choice and can result in you fracturing your new relationship.
Do check in.
After your first meeting, consider sending a short note or email to your new connection and mention how great it was to meet them as well as some of the things you talked about. Ask your connection about their business and how things are going for them. This reminds your connection of who you are and lets them know that you’re not just looking for a favor.
Don’t ask first.
So you’ve sent your note and heard back from your connection, is it OK to ask for a favor now? If you can hold off asking for something do so. See how you can help your connection first. Try to reach out to your connection several times and develop the relationship before you ask for something. Better yet, build your connection before you need something, that way you build meaningful relationships and when you do need a favor you’ll feel more comfortable asking and your connection will be more likely to assist you.
Do ask what you can do.
It’s never too early to ask what you can do for a new connection or offer ways to help them. As you reach out regularly offer your connection some sort of help. This can be as simple as a link to a news article you found helpful or letting them know of some new opportunities in their field. The more you help your connection, the more likely they will help you.
Don’t look for better connections.
Networking is called so because you are building a network of people, not a connection with just one. With some networking, the person who can help you most in your business may not be your new connection, but one of their connections. Don’t make the mistake of asking a new connection for an introduction right away. This may make your new connection feel uncomfortable and be difficult for them as they don’t know you well just yet.
Do expand connections in a logical way.
As you establish relationships with your new connection, the introductions will come. As you get to know people in your network, they may think to themselves that they know someone who might be good for you to meet. Let connections develop and work on them and you will see be given the chance to expand your network even more.