This is an article I wrote for The Vancouver Board of Trade's newspaper, Sounding Board. To read the original article, you may find it on the Board of Trade's website

Image Source: Tim Dorr 

Image Source: Tim Dorr 

The Vancouver Board of Trade organizes many events that give members opportunity to meet professionals from different industries. However, it is important to note that the size of your network is insignificant unless you take action.

Aim to build quality relationships after making your initial connection at a networking event. Here are a few steps to guide you:

Remember your conversation. Immediately after exchanging business cards and wrapping up your conversation, turn their card around and scribble important information about your new contact. Apart from information about their profession, consider listing their interests, recent accomplishments and help they are seeking.

Research is important. After the event, spend time to research your new connections. You might find additional information to help you with reasons to follow-up. Channels such as their Twitter, LinkedIn or their blog can provide more insight into the person’s interests

Follow-up. Send an email to remind them of your encounter. With the notes you’ve recorded, remember to mention things discussed in your conversation. For example, if they mentioned they are an avid non-fiction reader, you could provide a book recommendation. End your email by giving an action. This action could be a request to meet over coffee, or if there is no need to meet yet, then a request to stay in touch.

Connect online. Add your new contact to LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. Connecting online can provide an avenue to continue conversation. During or after the networking event, you can mention them on Twitter to ask a follow-up question, or simply to thank them for the conversation.

Reconnect offline. Solidify your relationship by having a face-to-face meeting. Send an email or message to propose a meeting over coffee. Be respectful of their time, and state the purpose of your meeting.

Find ways to help them. Give value to your new contact by helping them out with their needs. For example, you could send an article that may be relevant for their profession, industry or interests. You could also consider making a personal introduction to connect them with someone in your network. This can show that you have listed to your conversation, and are ways to strengthen a relationship.

A theme that connects these steps is to do research and give value. These two actions can serve as a framework to build better relationships from attending networking events. 

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