The hardest part of networking for a job is figuring out how to follow up. It’s not easy to meet new people and initiate relationships; and once you’ve done those things, you want to keep the relationships going. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any formula to doing this. Your follow up will depend on the quality of the relationship you’ve established so far, what you know about the other person, and the extent to which you have connection points with the other person. Connection points are just things in common, and as you begin any new networking relationship, take note of commonalities you have with the other person. These commonalities will fuel how to follow up. Following up is an art more than a science, but here are several guidelines that will help you improve the quality of your follow up and the quality of your relationships.
1. Have something to say. Have something of value to present to the other person. Value can be big or small, but it should demonstrate some thought about that specific person. No bulk emails. No one sentence questions like “How have you been?” No saying things like “I’m just writing to follow up.”
2. Keep it short. People don’t have time to read books when they’re at work. If the message looks too long it will get marked as unread and then find its way to the bottom of the email inbox. A message with 2-3 lines is digestible and welcome.
3. Go easy on the questions. Most international students don’t spend the time thinking about what they can give someone in their network, so instead, they try to take. “Can you take a look at my resume?” “Can you introduce me to person X?” etc. There might be a time and a place for requests like this, but make a habit of giving and earn the right to receive.
4. Keep it regular. If your follow up comes once every 8 months, you’ll lose any momentum you created in the beginning because people will have to remember who you are again. You’ve almost gone back to being a stranger and lost the value of the steps you initially took to create the relationship in the first place.
5. Keep track of it. As you start to meet more and more people, you’ll forget when the last time was that you connected with someone. If you’ve got it tracked someplace, you can remember the commitment you may have made. You can also keep track of any commitments made to you. Commitments on either end give you a reason to follow up.
The best way to follow up is to give. That’s the sort of follow up you would appreciate receiving and your contacts are no different.