Today I wanted to talk about building meaningful relationships from casual networking opportunities. In law school, we have plenty of opportunities to attend happy hours, firm mixers, diversity luncheons, and to meet guest speakers. And yeah, it's fun to meet all these amazing people, but how do you actually build a relationship after you've exchanged business cards? Hint: you have to be a go-getter!
1. Follow up promptly
After the initial meeting, send an e-mail and remind the person who you are, where you met, and why you enjoyed meeting him or her. Doing so within three days is best.
2. Be polite
In your e-mail, be ultra polite! You should always be polite, but it's really important here. Thank them for taking the time to read your e-mail, say thank you for the great advice they gave you, etc. Keep it short & sweet, he or she is probably very busy!
3. Ask for a 1:1 meeting
After telling the person why they impressed you so much, tell them that you'd like to follow up and learn more about them/their career/or any advice they may have for you. Offer to buy lunch, or coffee. If they don't have time, they might offer up a phone call, or an e-mail exchange.
4. Prepare for the meeting
Hopefully the person says yes! If so, make sure you're prepared with specific questions and are ready to guide the conversation. This shows that you are respectful of their time, and that you are genuinely interested in them.
5. Say thank you
After the meeting, send a thank you note. I still believe in snail mail, so I often send a short e-mail immediately after, and a more thoughtful hand-written card the day after. Tell them how grateful you are and how you plan to utilize the information they gave you.
6. Follow up
Finally, whenever you feel it's appropriate, send the person a short message to follow up with the meeting. Did the advice he or she give you help you land the job? Send a note and share the story! That way, the person will feel like their time with you was well spent.
Share with me how you connect with new contacts! Do you have any questions? Let me know!