So, you’ve already been convinced that networking is critical to your legal career. You’ve been to a few networking events, chatted with some interesting people, and have a desk drawer filled with business cards. Congratulations, you have taken the first step in building new professional relationships!
Unfortunately, no matter how many networking events you attend or business cards you collect, it will all be for naught without deliberate follow-up afterwards. You should be aware that the bulk of networking doesn’t occur at the initial meeting, but in the follow-up meetings and interactions. Below are some tips to guide you on how to follow-up after networking.
Follow-Up Within 24 Hours
It is important that you make the first contact within twenty-four hours after meeting. This is important for two reasons. First, you will be fresh on the other person’s mind, and they are more likely to remember you. Second, it shows that you truly enjoyed meeting them and would like to build a more meaningful professional relationship.
Create a Networking File
As soon as you can after the event or meeting, add information to your networking file. The format of this file is less important than its contents. You could create an Excel spreadsheet or keep a series of post-its in a calendar. Think of something that will work for you. The point of the networking file is to record important details about the person you met—contact information, practice area, and other information you obtained during the conversation that you think could be relevant later. You should also note in your networking file when and how you intend to follow-up with the individual.
Do a Quick Google Search
You may want to do a quick Google search of the people you met and intend to follow-up with after networking. This will allow you to gather more information about them as both individuals and professionals and will very likely give you more to talk about at your follow-up meeting. For example, you may learn that the person you met just won a major case or wrote a book on cross-examination. You might also learn that they are an avid runner or golfer, which may make it easier for you to think of ways to connect later. The point of the Google search is not to do deep background, but just to get a quick sense of the person you will be reaching out to and their interests.
Send a Thank You to the Organizer
If you attended a networking event, it is a great idea to send a thank you note to the organizer of the event. You may not even have had a chance to speak with this individual during the event, but it is a chance to make another professional connection. You could send the thank you in an email, but consider a handwritten note sent the old-fashioned way. For the cost of stamp, you will likely stand out and make an impression that may pay off later.
Call or Email People You Met
For anyone you met at the event that you would like to get to know more, send either a follow-up email or call the individual to set up another time to meet. Whether you call or send an email, the content of your message should be the same. You will want to reference the event where you met, tell them you enjoyed meeting them, and reference part of the conversation you had. After that, you will want to directly ask to meet again if that is something you are interested in.
A sample email may look like this:
I really enjoyed meeting you last night at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association event last night. Best of luck with your trial next week! I’d really enjoy talking with you in more detail about your career as a U.S. Attorney. Would you be available for lunch or coffee after your trial ends?
Link on Linked In
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you should get one as soon as possible. Once you have an account, you can link with the people you’ve met in this digital networking space. LinkedIn is a vital tool in modern day networking and you should use it as frequently as possible.
Follow on Twitter
You could connect with your new contact on Twitter or another social media platform. However, be very careful that your own profile and recent posts are professional. Social media is an easy way to make an additional connection and get to know your new contact. Fun fact: the founders of this very company met on Twitter!
These are some tips to get you started in thinking about how you can follow-up after networking. In the end, what is most critical is that you follow-up in a meaningful way within 24 hours after meeting. Good luck to you out there in building your professional networks!
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