After Networking Night: Next Steps By Mandy Chouinard
So, you did it: you went to a networking night. You knew the basics and you nailed it; you asked career specific questions to the professional guests, spoke to people whose career paths interested you, and exchanged business cards. You hope that you’ve made some meaningful connections, but where do you go from here?
- In the days the following the event it’s important to connect with the professionals you interacted with over LinkedIn. This is the first indication to the professional that you are growing your personal network and are interested in their work. LinkedIn also allows you to keep a log of the people you have connected with, and it may function as a line of communication in the future. When connecting on LinkedIn, refrain from sending the generic “I’d like to connect with you” message. Personalize your invite with details of where you met and what you spoke about- this will show that you genuinely care about this connection.
- Keep tabs
- Reaching out to a professional should be based on your career ambitions, opportunities, and interest in their work. These conversations won’t happen immediately after networking night, or with just anyone you meet. Through your academic studies and work experience, you will realize which connections will serve as the best mentors. Keep a shortlist of people you may want to get in touch with.
- Reach out
- Throughout your early career you may be faced with tough decisions and new opportunities. When you’re looking for advice or mentorship in these areas it’s time to look at your shortlist of professionals. It’s best to send an email to their address listed on LinkedIn, or if they don’t have an email posted, send a message directly over LinkedIn. This message should include where you met, what inspires you / interests you about their career, and what you stand to gain from their experience. An invite to coffee in a location convenient to them is an appropriate invitation, but I’ve heard even bubble-tea invitations yield a strong response!
- Grow your personal brand
- Meeting with a professional is a great chance to learn more about their career path, and get advice specific to your professional development. This type of meeting may not be recurring, or on the other hand, a long-term mentorship may flourish. This meeting is not (necessarily) an opportunity to ask about job openings. However, your interest and ambition will not go unnoticed. With a stronger sense of who you are and where your interests lie, your contact may consider you for future positions, or even connect you with other professionals in the industry. Good first impressions will be memorable, and you’ll be surprised at what may come of them.