So you went to a networking event. You met a lot of new people, delivered your elevator speech a few dozen times, and came home with fistfuls of business cards. Networking accomplished, right?
Not quite. You can’t forget the most important part of networking: following up.
Briefly meeting someone at an event barely makes an impression, let alone a strong addition to your professional network. If you truly want to develop lasting, fruitful professional connections, you’ll need to follow up. Here’s how:

  1. Follow up as soon as possible.
    Try to follow up within a few days of the event. While sooner is better, there is also such a thing as too soon. Sending someone a LinkedIn request while you’re still talking to them shows that you’re not really paying attention to what they’re saying.
  2. Use email and LinkedIn.
    Email is great for more personalized follow-ups, while LinkedIn can help keep the relationship going over time and signalling your connections to others.
  3. Jog their memory.
    The person you met might not remember you immediately. You can help them out by reminding them what you talked about or in what context you met when you follow up.
  4. Deliver on your promises.
    If you promised something, fulfill your promise as soon as you can. Whether you’re passing along a resume or just providing the name of a book you couldn’t remember at the time, fulfilling your promises will make people remember you as someone who keeps their word and gets things done.
  5. Don’t nag.
    While you should strive to keep your own promises, you shouldn’t hound someone to fulfill theirs. While a gentle reminder is okay, multiple emails or phone calls are not. Remind them once, and if your contact doesn’t follow through, just let it go.
  6. Don’t forget that you’re a resource.
    Just because you’re a young professional doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer your professional connections. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for advice or favors. If someone does ask something of you and it’s within reason to help them out, do it. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a good reputation and strong professional relationships.