The network event has gone smoothly. You’ve had a great time, you’ve engaged with a few new contacts and you had a lengthy and insightful conversation with one of your targets. Great! You can probably call the night a success. Although you’ve nailed the preparation and the event itself, you can’t rest of your laurels just yet. Generally underrated as an afterthought, following-up your new contacts after the event is an imperative step of the process. According to the New York Times, research shows that almost a third of external hires are from referrals. Additionally two-thirds of new business comes from referrals. Another Nielsen study cites clients are four times more likely to buy when being referred from someone they know and trust. So, what do you do with your pocketful of business cards? Well, they’re no value if you don’t utilise them. A networking event is just the initial beginning of a professional relationship; the follow-up is the key to developing it. Don’t ponder either; it’s best to make initial contact within 24 hours. Have a clear goal in mind We suggest you need to have an idea of what you’d like to happen next with your new contact before you reach out to them. Some examples include: Get a face to face meeting (low-barrier alternative is a short phone call) Suggest someone they might want to meet Request to send more information (i.e. if you had a productive conversation on a specific topic at the event) Extend an invite for coffee or lunch Send an email / make contact A quick and friendly note outlining the fact you enjoyed meeting them is a must. Your follow-up email should include the following: Reference the event and the conversation Mention something specific, especially of mutual interest, that was discussed Suggest a way to keep the conversation going Include a link or attach an article/blog of interest to the other person Close the message with next steps Pro tip: Don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive a response straight away. A corporate receives on average 120 emails per day. Therefore, give the recipient up to five days to get back to you. If they don’t get back to you, then it’s appropriate to send a follow-up email. Connect on LinkedIn Connecting on LinkedIn is easy, free and non-invasive. It’s also a great way to see when your new contact has a work anniversary or gets a new job … occasions for a follow-up. Create calendar reminders Create reminders for new contacts on your calendar to appear once a month. The note should contain some information about how you met and what you’ve discussed. When your contact’s name pop up each month, reach out to catch up, maybe set up another meeting, or send something that might be valuable like an invite to another event, a great article, or a valuable connection to someone in your network. It isn’t necessary to reach out to them every month they appear on your calendar, but it’s a great way to stay in touch! Remember key milestones and the small stuff With reminders constantly appearing on Facebook and LinkedIn, there’s no excuse not to remember a contact’s birthday. Reach out to them and pass on your best wishes. The same applies for an important celebration or event. These small gestures will go a long way. Pro tip: Bonus points if you hand write a note and mail it to them. Do you have any tips for making the most of post-event contacts? Please share them below.