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hook2921148701_6d1985e27f_mHow can you make the most of this holiday season to help you land jobs or gigs? Following up is your #1 way to make sure you don’t let opportunities slip through the cracks.

Networking is great. Meeting a lot of new people is terrific. However, knowing what to do once you’ve made a contact is just as important as finding the contact. How can you hook your contacts? Here are my tips for being remembered:

1. Send a nice note. In the mail.

If you met someone at a party or gathering and you want to keep in touch, send a nice note. I like typed notes, some people prefer a hand-written message. At this time of year, a card with a nice hand written note is fine. Be sure to include enough information to help the person remember when and where you met and what you discussed. Don’t forget that not everyone observes the same holidays, so avoid specific references to a particular holiday unless you know for sure. Greetings for the new year are usually appropriate and cannot steer you too wrong!

Of course, sending a note relies on you having the correct contact information, so don’t forget to exchange business cards.

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2. Cover your social networking bases.

When you meet someone and you think there is a professional connection, ask if they are on LinkedIn and if it would be okay to connect. Then, be sure to follow up right away (after you get home – not from your iPhone!) with a request to connect. Again, even if it is shortly after the party, remind the contact where you met and what you discussed. Don’t assume he or she will remember everything you talked about!

Connecting on LinkedIn provides many advantages. Of course, growing your network is always important, but also remember that your new friends will now have a chance to see your updates (and you theirs). In general, keeping tabs on someone is easy on LinkedIn and a very low impact way to stay in touch.

Also be sure to ask if the person uses Twitter. I’m a big fan, and I hope more people will begin to use if for professional purposes. Do NOT ask to connect via Facebook unless you are invited after an incidental meeting. Typically, this is not considered proper etiquette.

3. Set a Google alert or, even better, try a alert, for the name of the person you met and/or the name of their company.

No, I am not suggesting that you stalk the new contact! However, if Google can help you easily find out news or information about someone with whom you are trying to build rapport, all the better! When you learn that XYZ company  has won an innovation award or that Julia Smith has been named a top ten PR rep, you will be able to be among the first to send a follow-up note. This helps keep you top of mind. It sets you apart from every other random contact, which is important in this competitive market.

4. Make a strong personal connection.

In the midst of your initial conversation, hopefully you learned something personal about your new contact. For example – he is a Bulls fanatic or she went to UGA. She’s a photography buff and loves to garden. He is a world traveler, but hasn’t made it to Asia. You get what I mean – make a point to learn something interesting about people you meet. This gives you several benefits:

  • You will earn bonus points for being a good listener, for asking questions and for being attentive to your new friend’s interests. We all enjoy talking about ourselves. When you engage around a topic that tweaks someone’s passions, you are more likely to be remembered later.
  • You now have a new “hook” to use for follow up! Assuming you keep your eyes on the newspapers and Internet, you are bound to come across a post or article of interest to your contact. Send it along via email with a personal note. Again – the point  here is to maintain a “top of mind” status. You sent an article on tips for travel in China and your friend thinks about you in a day when you would not otherwise cross his mind.

You can do everything “right,” (know what you have to offer, have a great twitpitch, know where to look, have great materials…The list goes on and on. However, if you don’t follow up with your networking contacts, all of that work could easily go down the drain. Don’t let that happen to you!

Use the new year to follow up with people you met over the holidays and you won’t have to worry about lost opportunities.

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