How To Stand Out From The Crowd- In A Good Way (Part 1)
By Andy Colando III
We aren’t the first to opine on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of networking and we sure won’t be the last. Why? Because networking events are prime locations to meet new contacts and find experts in your field of interest. Helpful throughout your career, from first-year college student to seasoned professional, networking is an important and helpful skill to develop.
Why It Matters
Going to an event and meeting new people, however, is just the beginning. To get the most out of these new interactions, it is essential to have a follow up strategy with your new contact after the event has concluded. After all, you won’t build lasting relationships overnight, and the more you bolster your network, the more (otherwise unavailable) opportunities you will find.
In this post we’ll go over the “Do’s” of networking – Timing; Attitude; and Detail. Our follow up post will be about avoiding the “Don’ts” and thereby boosting your Networking ROI.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? Your new contacts likely attend dozens of events and meet hundreds of people. While each follow-up is bound to be a little different, here’s some key strategies:
It is best to follow up with your new contact within 24 hours of the event since details will be fresh in their minds. Here are some ideas:
– A professional email reminding them of the event and your intention to follow up;
– A LinkedIn connection request with a note that provides the context of your meeting;
– A phone call to their business card number; or
– A handwritten note with your business card.
This last item, while it may take a few days to reach your intended target, will really help you to stand out from the crowd as most people no longer receive ‘snail mail’ letters!
When networking, it’s critical to convey the right message. This is especially important as any follow up (even a phone call) will lack key nonverbal cues that help us fully understand our fellow human beings. A win-win message helps to start you conversation on the right path, so take some tips on framing an email and start with a sincere “thank you”.
Consider the following themes as you fill in your note, email or call:
– Something you learned from the individual;
– A detail about who/what they represent (company, research, speech, presentation, etc.);
– Something you both have in common (school, topic of study, home town, etc.);
– A question you still have;
– Offering your services to help or support your contact in some way; or
– Your interest in meeting again/additional information about mutually-beneficial opportunities.
Be upbeat, positive and authentic. A great attitude will help you to leave a positive impression on your new contact.
Most networking events involve many qualified and competitive individuals, so the details of your follow up contact can make a world of difference. Attention to detail isn’t just the memory of your middle school English teacher talking, it can actually impact your professional career. Some of these details include:
– Triple checking the correct spelling of your contacts first and last name;
– Double checking your grammar – and the rest of your spelling;
– Using professional syntax in messages instead of informal or shorthand phrases; and
– Making sure all of your files are attached properly.
You may also want to create, or update, the signature line of your email. Try adding information like your full name, email, phone number, and links to professional social media accounts like LinkedIn, or your company website.
Wrapping Up Part 1
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran in your field, attending professional events can have significant benefits, and a proper follow up can multiply those benefits substantially. Next time you’re able to participate in a networking event in your area, be sure to check it out and make sure you take the time to build up those new connections.