Networking is not easy stuff. You’re constantly putting yourself out there in potentially uncomfortable situations, meeting strangers for coffee or amping up your small talk game at a conference or networking event. Then, you finally break through and meet that one connection who introduces you to his or her friends, and everything falls in place. You get a new job, you learn about your passion, you get a new mentor, you land a new client.
These relationships are hard earned and extremely valuable. And the single, worst thing you can do is let these relationships fizzle out.
First, you have to set up a system to stay organized. It may sound odd, but you should create a spreadsheet or some sort of list with all your contacts, their job title, company, contact information, and notes about your previous meetings. Without an easy way to track follow-ups or emails, you could end up reaching out to the same person twice with the same message.
Once you have a master networking list, you need to make a habit out of following up and staying on contact. Maybe it’s every month, or every other month. Set up a reminder so you stay on schedule.
Then, follow these four tips for following up and keeping your relationships alive:
Share an Article
This is where your list comes in. Make notes about what your contacts are interested in or what you talked about at your last encounter. Then, send them relevant articles you think they would be interested in. Your email can be as simple as, “Hi X, I saw this article and remembered our last conversation about Google’s new SEO algorithms. I thought you would be interested in this new article about it from the New York Times.” Yes, it’s that easy. You are providing value and sharing something interesting without asking for anything in return.
Keep Up with Your Social Stalking
Take your social media stalking to the next level with Newsle. You can set alerts for your closest contacts and you’ll receive emails when they get a new job, get featured in the media, or publish something online. Then, you can send an email congratulating them.
Get Out of the House
Whenever you attend a networking event or go listen to a speaker, invite your contacts. Be sure to tailor your invitations to the people — don’t go inviting marketing manager John to a presentation about financial security. You want to show your contacts that you remember what they’re interested in and what they like. In other words, you want to make them feel special.
Social media is the easiest way to stay in contact. Scroll through your LinkedIn feed and comment on a post from one of your contacts. Or, respond to a Tweet or Like a Facebook post. Your goal here is to get your name in front of these people again so they don’t forget about you. However, social media is not the most effective way to keep your relationships alive. Responding to a Tweet is a great supplement to email communication, but if you’re only staying in contact with 140 characters, your relationship may not be as strong long term.
Conclusion & Next Steps
Whether you are growing your business or interested in making a career move, networking can pave the way for you. But, it’s up to you keep these relationships alive. There is no quicker way to kill a relationship than to email them solely when you need a new job or introduction to a potential client.