Think back to the last time you received a letter in the mail, or a nice email from someone you met at a networking event? When was the last time you sent one of those things?
Not only are they nice to receive, they serve a purpose, too. You probably already know you should be sending those follow-up notes, but even still, many fail to take that extra step that solidifies the connections you made the night before.
As you already know, not writing a thank you note can land your job application right in the “no” pile. As the ladies from TheSkimm say, “It’s common courtesy. Do it.” It’s probably a good thing to write follow-up note for every meaningful connection you make and interaction you make, especially if you want to keep that connection strong.
So on that note, we put together this guide on what to say in your emails, how to set up a meeting, extra tips for connecting on LinkedIn, the why, when, and what of handwritten notes… plus we’ve added free templates in the Resource Library.
Networking events should be a part of our lives as young professionals. Networking allows us to meet people both inside and outside of our industries and these relationships can be crucial in our personal and career development.
I make an effort to attend a networking event at least once a quarter and am intentional about getting to know new people and building professional networks. It’s unrealistic to go to every networking event you come across, so the important thing here is to really make the ones you can go to count. Once those relationships are built, I work hard to continue to connect with those people.
If you meet someone at a networking event or in a different place, you should follow up in 3-5 days. Anything beyond that risks having the person forget the details of your conversation. The format of the email will vary based on your conversation, but traditionally you will be emailing to do a one of a few things:
- Set up a meeting to learn more about them, their career or industry.
- Connect them with someone based on your conversation.
- Remind them of who you are and continue your connection.
Regardless of why you email, it is important to send a follow up email if you were able to have a one-on-one conversation.
Grab your 6 free templates here:
Here are a few things to include in the emails:
- Emailing to set up a meeting. Thank them for talking with you at the networking event (make sure to include the specific event name). Mention something you remember from the conversation, this helps to make it more personal. Give them a few dates and times that work for you or ask them to send you dates and times. This will help make the email more tangible and you are more likely to meet. Tell them you are looking forward to hearing back from them. If you don’t hear back in a few days, follow up. Also, make sure to think of either a clever or clear subject line. Something like: Following Up from Networking Event or Looking Forward to Talking Further. Most people get a lot of emails a day, so you want to make the subject line catchy enough that someone will at least open the email.
- Connect them with someone. Before you do this, check with the other person to make sure it’s okay to send your new connection their way. This email is similar to the first. Thank them for talking and include something personal. From here, your focus is connecting the two people. So go through and say something about each person including what they do and any other relevant information. At the bottom, make sure you include why you are connecting them. It will help the two of them when they are setting up a meeting.
Connecting on LinkedIn
If you want to connect with someone, but don’t feel like you need to meet, you can connect on LinkedIn instead of sending an email. Extra Tip: Instead of sending the generic “add me on LinkedIn” message, personalize it like you would an email. For example, say “Hi [name]! It was so great to meet you last night at [event]. I’d love to stay in touch! All my best, [Your Name].” Follow up emails will help to expand your network and are a vital part of being a successful young professional. Remember, you should go to networking events in order to meet people and follow up. If you can’t find networking events, go to your local chamber of commerce to find events or organizations you should be a part of. Make an effort to attend networking events on a regular basis, but make sure to send follow up emails after the event.
Thank you cards and handwritten notes serve a different purpose. Once you have built relationships, handwritten cards can be a nice, personal gesture to continue that relationship or reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I love writing a handwritten card and receiving one!
Why spend the time and money on a handwritten note?
- Emails are easy to ignore, cards in the mail are not. We are bombarded with emails every day. Between being busy with work and the number of emails, it is easy to ignore an email or open it and forget to respond. When you check the mail, it is a different experience. We are more focused on each individual letter in a way that we aren’t when we check emails.
- Handwritten notes are a nice surprise. Handwritten notes are an unexpected treat! They are frequently a surprise and really are a nice gesture and show that you care.
When should you write a handwritten note?
- When you want to say thank you: This is the most traditional use of a handwritten note. When someone does something nice for you, or goes out of their way, a handwritten thank you note is appropriate.
- When you want to encourage someone: If you have a friend who is down or just needs some encouragement, a handwritten card is the perfect touch. They can keep it and look at it later and it is an opportunity to say really nice things about them to them.
- When you want to check in with someone: I do this most for work contacts or for people I lead. Even if you work with someone or talk to them regularly, this is a nice way to deepen a work or personal relationship. When I am leading a team a people (especially volunteers), I try to send them at least one card a year so that they know I appreciate them and what they bring to the team.
When I write a handwritten card, the anatomy of the card is different for each one and very different than an email. There is no exact equation for a handwritten card, but try to make it personal. Speak from your heart and it will be perfect!
Get 6 simple, easy to fill in templates to follow-up or say thank you post-networking:
What will you need?
Once you are convinced that handwritten cards are important, there are a few things you need:
- The actual cards. You can buy these from a lot of different places. Target has great ones, but you can also go to a stationary store in your town or online to get personal letters. Vistaprint has a lot of options and they frequently have things on sale. I like to keep a few that specifically say thank you, but I also like to have some that are more general.
- If you have stamps on hand, it is a lot easier to get the letter out quickly. If you have to go buy stamps every time you want to send a letter, you will send less.
- A nice, reliable pen. This may sound silly, but I hate it when I start writing a letter and my pen goes out. It messes with my flow and the card doesn’t look as nice.
- Optional: a return address stamp. When you start to write a lot of letters (or if you start getting and sending holiday cards), this can save you a little time and some hand cramps. Vistaprint has these too.
Communication is key to building relationships and relationships are key to professional and personal success. Networking emails and handwritten notes, although they serve two different purposes, should be things you do on a regular basis.
Get in the habit of sending follow up emails when you meet people and send handwritten cards to people that are already in your life.
They are simple, easy things that will have a huge impact. Who will you write your next handwritten card to?