• following upFollowing up: How?

    I’ve been meaning to create this blog article for years.  My apologies to any international student whose graduation has come and gone in the meantime, and may have been waiting for this.  I’ve often said in my presentations that following up after an informational interview is both the most important part of the job search and the most challenging. It’s the most important because if you aren’t remembered you won’t be referred in the hidden job market.  It’s challenging for some reasons that will be obvious to anyone who’s tried following up:

    1. You typically don’t know your new contact very well.
    2. You need to follow up with something of value (otherwise, why should the other person read your follow up?)
    3. You often aren’t going to hear back from the other person

    There is real art to good follow up. Your success depends on how well you listen to what your contact tells you in your initial meeting, how good you are at finding things in common, and your ability to think creatively on ways to re-connect.  This article is a quick and dirty idea list that I hope you will be able to apply directly to your follow up, and that might spark some of your own ideas.

    Don’t forget the general rules of following up. Give your contacts little “cookies” that they will enjoy reading. No cakes that they don’t have time to eat, regardless of how tasty, or that might be too sweet!

    An important note: Not all of these ideas are mine! I’ll be adding to this list over time, and it would be great to hear your ideas as well.  What’s worked for you?

    • Connect your contacts to
      • A fellow alum with common interests
      • Someone who you think they might get value from knowing (and specify why)
      • Someone who you know will be able to help them with a challenge they have shared with you
    • Share with your contacts
      • An article you came across that you think they might finding interesting
      • A blog that you feel is relevant
      • A tool you think might help them
      • An app you find interesting
      • An idea you heard in class related to your conversation with them (and ask their opinion)
      • News about mutual friends and acquaintances
      • Progress you have made in your job search
      • Steps that you’ve taken upon their recommendation (and what happened)
      • Other people you’ve spoken with upon their recommendation (and what happened)
      • A new idea that you have on how to address a challenge they shared with you
      • Anything that you come across that you think will help them with a challenge they shared with you
      • Further thoughts on your conversation
      • That you were reminded of them and your conversation because of something that happened during your day
      • Something funny related to your conversation or relationship
    • Ask your contacts
      • If they will be at the next professional association meeting
      • If you can “return the favor” of their deciding to share their advice with you
      • Their opinion of a step you are about to take
      • Their opinion of a professional association you are considering joining
    • Invite your contact to join you at an event (on campus or somewhere else)
    • Write your contact a review on LinkedIn (assuming you know them well enough to write one)
    • Recommend your contact for something honorable
      • To give a quote for a publication
      • To speak at an event
      • To sit on a council/advisory board
    • Gently volunteer to help with something
    • Great excuses for follow up
      • Being in the same professional association
      • Research projects that involve their opinion
      • Being the person responsible for finding speakers for your student club

    Is this helpful?  What are your ideas on following up?