Networking – The Follow-up

Hartfield NetworkingIn a recent post, Joey Eisenzimmer outlined many good tips on networking. You can see that post here. I will focus on the final step – the follow-up.

At the college I attended, networking was very important. Being a school in Manhattan, there were multiple networking events every week, many with financial services companies (banks, accounting firms, insurance companies, etc.).

Networking is truly a numbers game – the more people you network with, the greater your chance of finding an opportunity. Of course, most events will present no opportunities. It is easy to become discouraged when you are not any closer to getting that internship or full-time position after many events in small, hot rooms with hundreds of people.

As Joey mentioned, preparing and having a game plan are very important for networking events, especially if you want to be remembered after the event. This is crucial for the follow-up. If you are prepared for the event and have a meaningful, interesting conversation with the business representative, the follow-up will be easier.

Let’s say that the business representative at the event works in the area that interests you or a similar area. You had a good conversation at the networking event, and it is now time to send a follow-up email. In the email you, of course, remind them of who you are and the conversation. You thank them for taking the time to come to the event. Then what?

A common tactic that was used at my school was to ask the person for a resume review. This works best when the business representative does not work in HR. It also helps if there were not hundreds of people at the networking event. (There were many small networking events put on by student clubs. This situation may be difficult outside of a college setting.) If the only events that you can attend are with HR and hundreds of candidates, however, ask for a resume review if you feel inclined.

What happened after I asked for a review of my resume? A few times the person did review my resume, but not much else. Whether they did or did not review my resume never mattered – nothing happened as a result of the event.

Looking back, I realize that I missed out on many opportunities. I have come up with an idea for the follow-up email that I will use in the future if I ever want to change companies. In full disclosure, I have never tried this; I do not know how successful it will be.

Back to the scenario. It is after a successful networking event and I need to write a follow-up email. On the company website, I find the job area that I am interested in. If there is a current opening, that is even better. I tailor the bullets in my resume to match the job description. When I send the follow-up email, I will reference the job that I am interested in and ask if the person thinks that my resume is good for that position. Something such as this:

I am interested in a role in area X. There is an open position at your company in area X. The job title is Y and the job ID is Z. I am attempting to tailor my resume to that job and would appreciate any suggestions that you have.

Taking the time to do more research about a position will further demonstrate that you are serious about the job. The person who you emailed will know your objective, which may increase the chance that the person will respond to your email – no one wants to be a spell checker for a stranger. With any luck, that person can put you in contact with, or forward your resume to, the HR representative in charge of filling the open position.

In addition to the above tactic, I will try another one that I heard is acceptable – ask the person to meet for coffee to ask them questions about his or her work.

Again, I have never attempted this tactic. In all honesty, I was scared before. (If you’re scared, say you’re scared!) Now, I will try it; I have heard from too many people that this is successful.

Whatever your approach to networking, do not get discouraged. Similar to hitting in baseball, a .300 success rate will get you to the hall of fame (or the small cubicle in the dark corner). Good Luck!