Follow Up & Follow Through: These are the two most important aspects of networking in my opinion. You have to continually follow up with the people you connect with. It keeps your name in front of them and chances are they may very well have missed the first email you sent. Following through is equally as important. If you say you are going to keep someone updated, then do it! You never know who their connections are, and when they may be able to help you in the future.
Following up before and after is essential. One email is not enough. After I was left hanging on a few occasions, I vowed to never do that to anyone. So far so good, but now that I have my first job, I can see how crazy the real world, and my industry (public relations), can get. It really isn’t that hard to skip over something in your inbox, or miss an email that got filed into your spam folder. Professionals must be diligent in looking out for requests, but students and job seekers need to keep trying. Trust me, I won’t think you’re annoying if you contact me more than once. It helps keep people, including myself, accountable. Especially if they have put themselves down as a contact on networks from their alma maters, in my case the Elon Mentor Network.
Following up after the interview is more important than you realize. Courtesy pays off and will help you be memorable. As Coach Skip Prosser said, “Never delay gratitude.” You need to be thankful for the people that help you because they will no doubt be the reason you get to where you’re going. Personally, I got countless informational interviews and three job interviews by simply following up with one person I had interviewed with. He told me to let him know when I applied for any positions because he may know people at that agency. Well, a week later I emailed him that I had applied for a position and without my asking, he already had a note into his two higher up contacts to look out for my application. It is nearly impossible to break through online applications without putting in that kind of effort. My contact also asked me to interview for a job at his agency, again without my asking. Follow Up! (Do you get the point yet?)
Following through is equally as important. By following through on my informational interviews and meetings, I was presented with countless opportunities and this allowed me to meet some incredibly smart people. Make sure you call or show up on time. Professionals don’t want to be left hanging if they block out a chunk of their time for you. Also, follow through if you say you will keep someone updated. As I have pointed out from personal experience, it can potentially help you get your foot in the door for a dream job, or at least the first step on the ladder to get there.
The percentage of students and recent grads that consistently follow up and follow through is so small, that doing so instantly puts you ahead of the game. Obviously there are more steps to networking, but after you put yourself out there, these are the two that complete the cycle and really make your effort worth it.
Follow up, Follow through, and happy networking!