The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What are some tips that promise success at networking events?” is written by John Boitnott, advisor to Startup Grind.
Networking is an important part of building a new business, and career-minded professionals are often told it’s the best way to form the partnerships they need to succeed. Whether it’s through booking monthly appointments with local networking groups or flying across the country for huge industry conferences, professionals can quickly make contacts that help them as they make daily decisions about their businesses.
As valuable as these events can be, however, you can easily find yourself getting so caught up in the workshops and presentations that you forget to network. Even when you do make valuable connections, if you don’t pursue a relationship beyond the meeting itself, you won’t benefit. Here are a few things you can do to make the most of all of those first-time meetings:
Exchange contact information
Traditionally, professionals exchange paper-based business cards while networking. This only works if you actually use the information on the card once the event is over. Apps that scan business card information and save it to a database can be a great first start toward ensuring follow-up after that initial meeting. If, like many people, you don’t want to go to the trouble to get business cards made, just open your LinkedIn (LNKD) app at the event and connect to your new contact right away.
See also: How to Impress a Really Busy Executive
Don’t wait for your contact to get in touch with you. Take the first step by sending a short email stating that you enjoyed your conversation, and offer a call to action of some sort. That may be a meeting for coffee or an invitation to an upcoming event your business is hosting. The more you can make the offer beneficial to the other person, the likelier it is to work.
Follow on social media
If you aren’t quite ready to meet the connection in person, use social media as a way to stay in touch. Search for everyone you collected information from and follow them. You may even want to set up a private list on Twitter (TWTR) to keep all of the people you met at each event in one place. Connect with each of them on LinkedIn to make sure you’re on each other’s radar if any opportunities come up.
If you know someone who would be the perfect connection for the new person you’ve met, make an introduction. If it leads to them working well together, you’ll get credit for being the person who made the match. You’ll also be expanding your network by having a mutual connection in common with the new person you’ve met.
As you’ve likely noticed, it’s easy to meet dozens of people at one networking event. After the fact, the names and details can blend together. While you’re scanning business cards, note any small details you might be able to mention when you follow up. If you discussed your mutual love for a particular sporting team, for instance, or you had a conversation about working on a project together, bring it up in your initial communication to jog the person’s memory.
Look for additional events
If you had this event in common, you’ll likely have others, as well. Search for opportunities to see some of the same people at other meetings and conferences and re-introduce yourself when you do. If you see a connection is planning a seminar or product launch, make a point of showing up and demonstrating support. Your connections will appreciate it and be more likely to take an interest in helping you.
Networking events are a beneficial way to meet others in your industry, as well as fellow business owners who are interested in learning and growing. By finding a way to stay in touch long after a networking event has ended, you’ll be able to make the most of every meeting.