The primary goal of professional networking is to make contacts that will help your small business and/or career. The right contact or contacts can lead to multiple business relationships for you and your organization. Much like personal socializing, there is a protocol to follow after you’ve made the initial contact and had that first conversation. You should think of yourself more as a suitor than a predator stalking prey. You might also think of yourself as fishing and what to do when you finally get something on the hook – timing really is everything.
Enhancing Business Opportunities
Remember that professional networking is a tool for building business relationships. After the introductory conversation, the next step is sending follow-up correspondence. Even in the professional world, most people like to feel “special” – recalling specific details from your conversation tells the other person that you paid attention and were interested.
The best time to send your follow-up email or letter is approximately 24 hours after the initial connection. This lets the other party know that you are interested in continuing the communication and it helps you recall information from that first conversation. The idea is to be professional and friendly and concise all at the same time. You want to be interested without being too pushy.
Writing Your Networking Email
Even though more potential business contact has already met you and picked up the first impression your email/message is another facet of that impression. The overall length of the message should be short – no more than 2 or 3 sentences. Depending on how your initial conversation lasted, you may be okay to go over that but not more than a few more sentences.
Essentially, it’s best to keep this message short and sweet. And grammatically correct. Read over your message at least twice before sending it to ensure that you haven’t missed any spelling or grammar errors. Do not use casual slang even if you are emailing someone your age or younger – this is not a personal text, but rather a professional communique.
Importance of the Follow-Up Letter
The purpose of this email is to thank the other person for that meeting and extend the offer to further communication. Hopefully, you’re not just going for the quick sale, but rather trying to build a long-term business relationship that will be beneficial for all parties involved. Think of this as a professional courtship – you’ve had that initial meeting and now you are reaching out to Simply let the other person know you enjoyed the conversation. You’re not asking for anything yet and not trying to push a sale on him/her. You are being polite and friendly. Business professionals know when they are being manipulated and that tactic may not work out for you.
It’s also important to be genuine in your message to create a good business relationship. Whether you send an email or letter or extend a LinkedIn invitation, you want to be professional and genuine. Being personable in the professional world is important because so many people are too busy trying to get the sale to care about the person they are dealing with. Just be real.
Hey there [First Name],
It was great meeting you at [location/name of event]. I enjoyed our conversation about [mention part of conversation] and would love an opportunity to connect over coffee and learn more about what your company is doing/ your experience in [name industry].
I know you are busy and have a lot on your plate, but I thought I would take a chance and tempt you with a free java. Are you free [date] for [time]?
Thanks for your time and I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation.