How you conclude your first meeting with a new contact is vital to building an effective relationship. Even if your encounter is brief, make sure you leave it with a request to keep in touch, either by meeting again in person or connecting online through email or social media.
Remember, networking is a long-term investment that requires time and persistence. Most of the connections you make will not have anything to offer you initially. By politely following up with your contacts, you'll be able to develop a relationship over time. The stronger your relationships, the more likely it is that your connections will think of you when opportunities arise.
We'll talk more about online networking in our module, Job Hunt with Social Media.
Business CardsBelieve or not, paper business cards are still a great way to share your contact information quickly and easily. Your business card should be simple, with your basic contact information and a concise personal statement, like a shorter version of your elevator pitch (no more than a few sentences). If you feel comfortable using new technologies, you might consider using a mobile app like CardMunch instead, which allows you to share a digital version of your business card and take a picture of other people's cards for later reference.
Networking LogYou'll need to make sure that you have an organized system for maintaining and tracking your connections so that you can effectively follow up and maintain contact. You can create your own networking log, or use a free online tool like JibberJobber, which allows you to save information about different networking contacts and stay organized as you build your network.
Take some time to reflect on the following questions as you begin building your network:
- Who is in your current network?
- How can you expand your network? Can you join social or professional organizations for networking?
- How will you introduce yourself to new people? What is your elevator pitch?
- What can you offer new connections to build a mutually beneficial relationship?
- What tools will you use to keep up with your connections?