The Art of Following Up

How to turn that business card into a business contact

You met a business professional recently at an industry event, professional association meeting or informal gathering. A week or two goes by, and the business card you exchanged is still sitting on your desk. Why haven’t you followed up?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, salesperson, executive or job seeker: following up is an art that you can master. The first step is to move beyond your excuses. Here are some common ones:

Too much time has passed

You got busy and that business card sat on your desk for a month. Now you think it’s too late. Will the other person even remember you?  The best time to follow up is within a week of your first meeting – but even a month later, it’s not too late to reach out with an email. 

The other person would have contacted me if he/she really wanted to connect

Don’t assume lack of interest because you’re the first to reach out. Making the first move may feel a little unfamiliar at first. Remind yourself that it’s a small price to pay for cultivating a meaningful business relationship. 

I don’t know what to say

You start to write an email to your new contact and your mind goes blank: what to say? You don’t have to be profound; just be sincere. Simply thank the person for an enjoyable conversation and let him or her know you’d like to stay in touch.

Reconnecting after an initial meeting

Reconnecting by email is an easy way to follow up. Think about the conversation you had, and draft a message that incorporates the following elements:

  • Tell the person that you enjoyed meeting at the event
  • Thank the person for your conversation
  • Mention a mutually interesting topic from your conversation
  • Suggest meeting for coffee (or a phone call if distance is a factor) in the near future to continue the conversation
  • Tell the person that you look forward to staying in touch

A sample email might look like this:

Subject Line: Nice Meeting You

Karen,

It was nice to meet you at the IOGA meeting recently. I enjoyed comparing notes about financial software with you, and also appreciated our conversation about major league baseball. It’s always a pleasure to meet a like-minded fan!

I’d enjoy continuing our conversation. Are you available for a cup of coffee over the next few weeks? Please let me know some dates and times that can work. I look forward to reconnecting with you.

The next time you attend a networking event, remember that the goal of exchanging business cards is to turn them into business contacts. And if there’s a business card or two on your desk right now, you have a golden opportunity to practice the art of following up.

Posted on May 1st, 2015