Don’t Leave Your Network Supporters Out of the Loop: Follow-Up is the Key to Good Networking
Okay, you have finally heeded the advice to network in your job search. You have made calls. You have had coffee. You have been introduced into companies and to key people. You have attended events. Good for you! You are KILLING IT with your networking, right? …………………. Yes and no.
Making the initial outreach to your network is an excellent first step. However, if you fail to follow up, there are two possible bad outcomes:
1. Your networking partners could feel taken advantage of
2. People will most likely forget about you (even if they don’t mean to)
So, how do you make sure those things do not happen? ................You follow up.
What are some ideas for good follow up after a networking meeting?
After the meeting, write a handwritten note or an email (either is fine) and express your sincere appreciation.
Keep your network informed about your search and let them know how their referrals are helping you. Write a note for each time you have successfully reached out to a contact they gave you and keep them posted on the status. Every new development is an opportunity to thank them and get your name back in front of them.
If they gave you advice (resume changes, ideas for possible target companies, recruiters you can reach out to), let them know how it was helpful. If you have made resume changes based upon their advice, send them the updated copy and thank them.
Make it mutual and build the relationship. These conversations are an investment in your career for the long-term and should be beneficial to the person helping you as well. Here are some ideas for what you can “trade back” to your network.
Sample script 1: You were so helpful to me when we met on Friday; I would like to return the favor. Is there any way I can assist you?
Sample script 2: You were so helpful when we met last week, if you or someone in your life is ever in a job search; please feel free to reach out to me for networking. I am glad to share my contacts or help in any way I can.
Be on the lookout for ways to add value to your networking partners. If you find an article to share that is relevant, send it. If you heard something during the conversation that you can assist with, offer that. You can offer advice, ideas, share connections, or send along anything of relevance, even if it is not work-related (i.e. you hear that your networking contact is a huge baseball fan and you see a great Groupon offer for cheap seats, send it along.)
How often should I follow up?
The rule of thumb is that if you go more than 3 weeks without reconnecting, your networking partners may have forgotten about you, so keep track of your follow up and find ways to get back in touch a minimum of 3 weeks after that initial thank you.
Don’t let all of your networking efforts fizzle out. Develop a structured follow up strategy to stay top of mind to all of these great contacts. You will be glad you did! If you have ideas on good networking follow up, please feel free to mention it in the comments section below.
Dana Maggi, Career Coach