Networking does not end when the event is over. To truly be effective at networking, you must actively maintain the connections you have made to gain the most from your networking efforts. Below are some tips to help you do that:
- Record Key Information Immediately: Immediately upon leaving the event, record some key details on the back of the business cards you collected while they are still fresh in your mind. This will help you follow-up with the individual you connected with.
- Follow-up: Follow-up with the individuals you connected with by email or telephone and arrange to meet with them again for a longer conversation. Be specific here - invite them to meet for coffee or lunch in a specific time frame.
- Networking is a Two Way Street: Like any good relationship, a networking relationship is most effective when both parties get something out of it. Make sure you are contributing to the relationship also. If you come across an article or a recent development that may be on interest to the person you met, forward it to them. If you are attending a professional event that might interest the person you want to connect with further, send them the details and let them know you will be attending.
- Connect on LinkedIn: If both of you have a LinkedIn account, ask if you can connect with the individual on it. Once you are connected, check out the person's profile and join any groups that he/she belongs to related to the practice area you are interested in. (And if you do not have a LinkedIn account, this might be a good time to start one).
- Track Your Networking Efforts: Devise a system for keeping track of your contacts and efforts, whether its electronic, a notebook or binder, or some other system. Record information about who you met, when and where you met, what you discussed, important information about the individual such as their practice area and employer, and what follow-up you intend to do.