How to Follow Up to Build Relationships
A #careerconundrum recently came into the podcast hotline from a listener named Emily, who wants to know how to take her networking to the next level and really develop meaningful relationships after meeting with people.
Some of the most sought-after content I’ve created in the past is all about mastering the networking game, from how to get on a busy person’s calendar, to mastering the art the of the 1-on-1 meeting. But Emily’s question belies an important truth: none of that matters without on-point follow-up.
So don’t be like the folks I spoke about on last Thursday’s episode, who totally ghost people after meeting with them, and follow these best practices instead.
Send a Recap Email
Immediately following your initial networking meeting, send a follow-up email that recaps any action items that came out of your initial conversation.
Did they say they’d connect you with their friend in HR? Remind them! And send along a little blurb about you that that they can use to introduce you via email.
Make sure to get them anything else you owe them that they’ll need to help you further (your portfolio, a link to your website, your resume, etc.).
Keep your email recap short and simple, and use bullet points when possible to keep action items clear. The goal: make it as easy as possible for them to follow through on whatever it is they agreed to in your one-on-one meeting.
While you’re at it, make sure to express your thanks in whatever way feels most appropriate to you. Thank them via email. Send a handwritten note.
Or if you really want to show your gratitude, send a gift! I’ve shared before how big a fan I am of sending a token of appreciation – probably because gift-giving is my love language – and also because they make such a big impact!
When some one is really doing you a solid, make sure to follow up with gratitude first.
Next, consider how you can return the favor, too. Saying thanks is nice and all, but what can you do for them? Can you connect them to folks you know who’d be interested in supporting their work? Can give a public shout-out to amplify what they’re doing? Can you hook them up in any way, shape or form?
An effective networking meeting should leave you both with a sense of each others’ primary goals and current pain points, so do something about them!
I know it’s sometimes intimidating to dare to give advice or even see yourself as being in a position to help when you’re meeting with some one you consider to be a mentor. But remember: building meaningful relationships is a two-way street. Adopting a peer mentality – and really seeing yourself as in the same boat as the person you’re networking with – can help. Don’t be afraid to offer support and encouragement.
Keep in touch
To really turn a one-time networking meeting into a blossoming relationship, you’ve got to keep in touch. This is especially true if you’ve been networking as a part of a job search. It’s easy to get bogged down in a long job hunt, but you better close the loop when you land your next gig! Circle back to tell the folks you’ve met with that you’re off the market and to thank them again for their support – especially if they played a role in landing your new opportunity.
From there, keep them updated on what’s happening with you. How are you settling in to the new role? Ask them how they’re doing and if there’s ever a way you can support them in return. A friendly email once a quarter goes a long way. You might even get in the habit of sharing articles or books that come across your radar and remind you of their interests.
And if you really want cultivate a relationship, it’s important to spend quality time together. So schedule a catch-up coffee or meal together every few months to keep the conversation going.
Remember, friendships are a two-way street
So don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you’re feeling like the relationship isn’t reciprocal. If you keep reaching out and they’re not receptive to your regular communication or invites to meet up, don’t take it personally if a deeper friendship just isn’t in the cards.