For many of us, the most challenging parts of the networking conversation are getting it started and steering it through the middle. If you’ve gotten it this far, the end should be easy! But beware; you don’t want to drop the ball at this point, because the end of the conversation is actually the beginning of the networking relationship. It’s important you end strong, and with the promise of ongoing connection.
First, understand where you want this to go:
- You have a specific way you can help this person and want to make it happen.
- You would like this person to help you in some way (for example to make a connection with someone or advise on job search strategy)
- You want to keep in touch with this person moving forward but there is no specific action item right now.
Whatever your goal, you may begin by summarizing the middle portion of your conversation then link it to future action. And as you do this, you may want to remind the person of your brand. Of course if you have just introduced your brand, it would be unnatural to immediately restate it. But if it’s been a long conversation, a reminder may be in order.
For example, if you’ve discussed a connection or help you have to offer you may say “I’m eager to make that connection for you and will email you the information tonight.” This is easy to do when you are the one offering help and you are the one with a follow up item.
If you want them to do something, you have to nudge without being pushy. So you may say:
“Thank you in advance for making that connection. I’ll send you an email so you have my email address to forward to your friend. I hope my expertise in (fill in blank) is of interest to her.”
“I appreciate your willingness to take a look at my job search goals. My focus is on (fill in blank) and I appreciate your input. Can I email you to set up a time?”
“It’s great that you know the hiring manager for the position and it sounds like my ability to (fill in blank) may be just what he is looking for. I’ll ping you tomorrow morning to see if you can put me in touch with him.”
Assign yourself an action item, that way you know it will get done. You will meet people who are great about follow-up, but in a distracting environment, given you are the one seeking help, taking an action item yourself is the best way to assure it happens.
If you’re just looking for ongoing connection, say so and set a date. For example, “Great to meet you and I hope we can keep in touch. I’ll email you in a few weeks to find out how it is going.”
Be sure to exchange contact information, and make good on your action item in a timely fashion. Add the person to your professional network. Remember the golden rules of networking conversations:
- Look for ways to be helpful
- Thank and show graciousness
- Pay it forward
Tell us! What works for you in networking conversations? How do you keep the connection going as you wrap-up face time?