Today we focus on one of the most important parts of networking, which is building a LASTING professional relationship with people who may be of assistance now or in the future. Let’s start with a few tips on how you can keep up with the contacts you create and build upon your current network.
In order to successfully follow up with a contact you met at a networking event, you’ll first need to remember his/her name correctly. How many times have we met someone and remembered their face but we can’t quite recall their name. I heard a great suggestion recently that I think is effective in helping to remember names. It’s referred to as the Forrest Gump rule, taken from the popular movie, “Forrest Gump.”
In the film, the primary character introduces himself to others as “Forrest, Forrest Gump.” He says his first name twice, and it gives more opportunity for someone to remember the name. The whole point is to repeat a name twice so that it sticks in someone’s memory.
Another great tip is that when you get a business card, write something about the conversation you had with that person on the back of the card. Recalling the conversation on the card will help with remembering the commonalities you share and can spark up a great conversation when you follow up. Make them feel like you built a solid rapport. That can strengthen your relationship in the future.
There are many ways to organize all the contact information you have. Things to include in your personal networking file: phone numbers, e-mail addresses, contact information, where people worked in the past and other memorable data points.
You can use your organized database to follow up with people promptly after an initial meeting. Schedule 10 to 15 minutes on your calendar once or twice a week, and ask yourself “What can I do right now to strengthen relationships within my company or outside my company?”
Let’s say you’re looking for a job in the healthcare industry. You attend a networking event and come across someone in the legal field. The two fields may seem extremely different and unrelated, but don’t misunderstand the purpose of a network. You may need some legal advice in the future, or your next job may be a referral from the person in the legal field. The key to networking is to never discount the value of the people you build relationships with. For example, my mother found me my first job in the fast food industry because she knew the manager of a local restaurant. My mother had no experience in the restaurant industry, but her friend’s daughter was the manager at the restaurant and interviewed me for an open position.
The key to networking is to build LASTING professional relationships. Follow-up is extremely important no matter what your ultimate goal for networking may be. If we simply used our network until we reached our goal, we wouldn’t be maximizing the usefulness of the networking process. Keeping up with and growing your network will definitely be valuable to you, and it may also be of value to someone else. Keep up with the people that you meet. Grow your network, and see your career advance.
Cornelius Booker is a senior member of the Regional Navigator team and a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he received his Bachelors in Marketing and later received his M.B.A with a focus on Business Marketing and Management. With his personal experience and passion for the disabled community, Cornelius’ insights are an invaluable asset to the Workforce Solutions organization.