Seven Ways to get Meaningful Results From a Networking Event

networking event follow up

A networking event can be very career helpful, but only if you have a plan

Let’s be honest, networking events can be an exercise in futility if not properly managed.

Actually for me I’ll go one step further; networking events can be anxiety producing, out-of-comfort-zone, exercises in cold sweats.

Maybe I have my mom to blame for constantly drilling into my head I shouldn’t talk with strangers, because even almost two decades into my career, I have never felt comfortable at networking events.

But they are a necessary part of the process.

Seven Ways to Get Meaningful Results from a Networking Event Click To Tweet

You get introduced to available jobs by sites like ours, but you often get hired for jobs based on who you know and what you have accomplished. If you are like me, and just want to get in and out of networking events unscathed, you are missing the end goal – to make lasting industry connections.

After some time of struggle a colleague of mine said, ‘if you are going to go through the anxiety leading up to an event, you might as well make sure you get something out of it.’ Good point.

So, as is my nature, I built a plan and a checklist I could execute on repeatedly with every contact I made at a networking event. I’ve tweaked it over the years to account for new technologies, but the premise and underlying goal remains the same.

Now you can avoid the long and winding path I took to get here, and cut right to the end by following this plan to make a networking event worth the effort.

Within 24-48 hours:

1: Craft a hand-written note

You’re probably wondering – is this guy my grandfather? It’s all email, texts and social nowadays pal!

I get it. I’m in my 30s not my 70s.

The idea here is to be different and as Malcolm Gladwell would say – disruptive. I have over 500 unopened emails in my inbox right now because I filter the results with ease. I see it’s not from my boss, or from someone that impacts me right now…and I pass it off for another day.

Now think about your mailbox.

You grab a stack of mail, throw away sales circulars and junk – and then you see a hand-written envelope. Aren’t you immediately curious? Don’t you always open and read what inside? It shows a different level of effort and will be remembered for the right reasons.

So make your grandfather proud and make it part of your routine.

Craft a handwritten thanks note after networking, a simple touch that matters Click To Tweet

2: Connect on Social Media

You still need to use the technology at your fingertips and remain current, like I said I’m not 70.

First move, connect on LinkedIn. It’s the most professional social media platform there is, and has a clearly identified niche that it is serving in the social world. Places like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest aren’t serious, LinkedIn is.

networking event linked in groups

We have an entertainment careers group on LinkedIn – come join us!

After connecting make sure you:

  • Find out what groups they are a part of and join them
  • Start to notice, engage and ask questions where they are
  • Share industry relevant articles, so that you appear interesting and connected

Of course, connect on Twitter, but just remember LinkedIn is a gate that they have to accept you through, so it makes it a deeper connection. They are letting you in.

3: Set up a Google Alert for Their Name or Business

I checked – this isn’t considered stalking.

You are looking to have further intelligent conversations with this person and the best way to do so is to keep up on what is happening in their world.

Imagine this scenario:

  • You set up an alert after a networking event
  • One morning you are notified your desired connection got a promotion (or their business won a big contract etc.)
  • You email them and say something like, “I was reading AdWeek and saw you got a promotion at (insert business) congratulations!”

In one short and sweet message you have shown you are keeping up in the industry, stayed top of mind with them and come on, who doesn’t appreciate congratulations?

This took you about 5 minutes – but made a lasting impression.

In the First Few Weeks:

4: Plan out Your Correspondence

If you are anything like me, if I don’t craft a plan and put it in my iCal, I forget to do things (just ask my wife). Set up reminders to talk to certain people you met, jot down some notes on your conversation and craft a few ideas for future discussion.

The more work you do in the first few weeks after a networking event, the better chance you have at following the plan and creating a relationship.

5: Figure out how to Help Your new Contact

The best way to start building a friendship or report with someone is to provide them with value, so spend some time brainstorming how you can help your new contact:

networking event connections

Connecting your new contact to others of value in your network will hep forge a valued relationship

  • Do you know anyone who could help them in their business? You can offer to set up a talk.
  • Have you read an article relevant to your discussion at the networking event? Share it.
  • Are there any events or conferences you plan on going to in the near future? Invite them.

These are simple ideas to offer something other than, ‘do you know of any jobs I can get?”

If all you bring to the table is want, you will grow tiresome quickly.

Every Other Month

6: Find a way to Talk

Offer coffee, a drink, send an email, make a call – it doesn’t matter what you choose, just plan on doing something every other month.

It can even be as simple as tweeting something out that includes their @ in it.

The other day I was mentioned in a tweet by a young person who has been asking me for career advice – he shared one of my articles and said how much he liked it. Immediately I thought of him, wondered how he was doing and reached out to him.

All he did was figure out some way to spark a conversation and like Pavlov’s dogs I responded.

If you’ve implemented all the previous tactics, communication becomes easier to generate. If you go months without conversation, it becomes near impossible.

7: Don’t be Afraid to ask

If you’ve built a relationship you can ask for things from your new contact – just please don’t make it about a job. If you stay present, prove your skills and industry knowledge, this person will think of you if a job opens up, even without you asking.

The things you want to ask about are advice driven. Show this person you respect their opinion and want to learn something from them.

  • Tell them you are thinking about taking a class in (insert subject) do they think that is a wise choice and beneficial?
  • Ask if early in their career they wish they would have done something different
  • Ask what their biggest successes have been and how they navigated the choices

Ask anything that piques their interest and allows them to share what they have done or learned. People want to share advice, people want to help others – people don’t want to be harassed for jobs they may or may not have.

Final Thought

The concept here is more than it appears – we aren’t driving towards a quantity of connections, we’re looking for valuable quality connections.

The goal isn’t to reach 500 connections on LinkedIn that if you asked, have no real idea who you are. You’d be better off making 50 deep connections crossing over many parts of your industry.

One of my biggest pet peeves is having someone ask to connect with me on LinkedIn, but then they never say anything after I accept. I always check someone’s profile and if they have some relevance to my world I’ll accept the connection, and expect a conversation… but almost never get one.

I wonder, what is the point of that? Did this person think ‘Mission Accomplished” just because I hit the confirm button?

Any form of networking takes effort, so don’t take the easy way out and just go through the motions, make a real connection by putting some effort into it.

And if you want to join the Entertainment Careers Linkedin group, please do it here…and start engaging in meaningful communication!

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

Comments

  1. Derek L. Andrews Jr says:

    Hello Brian,

    I’m an aspiring television and film producer, and I have follow your work on both WorkinSports.com and WorkinEntertainment.com. Thank you for the career advice. Your advice comes at the right time and keeps me focus on my career path.

    Derek

    • Derek that is great news, makes me proud to know we are helping you on your journey. As a former TV producer myself, I can tell you it’s a great career one that you will enjoy thoroughly. If there are ever any specific questions you have don’t hesitate to ask, we like being able to help. – Brian

  2. This piece was practical, informative, congenial, and non intimidating. A realistic framework for genuine potential partnerships, tips, or mentors once established in a Field.

  3. Larry Mitchell says:

    Hello Brian,

    Your comments were very informative. I’m an army veteran who has had a desire and dream for years to enter the sports industry. I have a MS in Sports and Fitness MGMT and i even studied with Sports Management WorldWide. Networking is not easy, but exciting and fun. How can I break down barriers and get im the industry? This is my true passion, please assist in my endeavors…

    • Larry – glad you enjoyed the article, matter of fact i just posted an article on the workinsports blog regarding transitioning from military careers to sports careers – that may be helpful to you as well. What kind of barriers are you encountering? I’d love to help however I can… – Brian

  4. Having been to countless networking events and made an obscene amount of contacts, it is always nice to connect with someone that does things a little differently. They stand out and it shows they care enough to go that extra step. Thanks Brian.

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