In March every year, thousands of people convene on Austin, Texas… to exchange business cards.
Why go all the way to Austin to hand out your business cards? Well, there’s no better place to mingle with the “who’s who” of the tech and music scenes than South By Southwest (SXSW), the annual festival of all things new, hip and cool.
At the end of a long day at SXSW (just look at the exhaustive daily schedule), festival goers probably have a stack of business cards in their pocket. But when everyone is back home or in the hotel, then what?
What becomes of those cards?
Despite the best of intentions, eventually most look at the card pile and think “I’ll get to those later” which at some point turns into “Where’s the trash can?”
And that’s where we fail at a critical part of the networking process. I have written before about how grit is more important than talent. When it comes to networking, that idea applies once again to leveraging the contacts that handed you a business card.
How to Network with All Those Business Cards
Take out the business cards and lay ‘em on the table. Open up your email, and send a short note to each person you met (see sample emails down below). Your effort to send a simple email accomplishes three things:
- Surprises/impresses people since they never expected to hear from you again
- Allows you to pass along additional info about yourself or your company
- Stores the person’s email in your system so you’ll always have it down the road
Yes, this is extra work. Yes, it’s time you’d rather spend sleeping after an intense day of talking, walking and watching SXSW concerts like Coldplay and Pitbull. And yet, these are the moments that make or break careers. You never know if your little note could lead to a much bigger conversation.
Are you going to dig in and send these emails? Or will you let opportunity pass you by?
Sample Follow-Up Networking Emails
If you are in the job market:
My pleasure to meet you at [wherever you were] earlier today. [Insert friendly line about your conversation or something the person told you to prove you were paying attention]
As promised, I am passing along my resume which I’ve attached to this email.
Once you’ve had a look, let’s talk further about how my experience will help your company. I’ve been working hard on [particular skill that company needs], and I’d like to discuss what I bring to the table.
Please let me know when you have time for a short phone call.
If you have a job:
My pleasure to meet you at [wherever you were] earlier today. [Again, insert friendly line about your conversation or something the person told you. Prove you were paying attention]
I did some more brainstorming about our conversation and do think there are ways our we can work together. Check out this link to one of our recent projects. I can definitely see us doing a similar [whatever it is you do] for your team.
When your schedule allows us to talk further, please let me know. One my end, I’m free later this week for a phone call.
Taking a business card is a solemn oath that you will reach out after the event. So take the time. Be different that everyone else. Follow up!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at News to Live By!
About the Author: Danny Rubin is the creator and writer of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. In one short-and-sweet column, Danny recaps a top news story and explains how it can make us better at our jobs. He’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Business Insider, and his work has also been featured in The New York Times. Follow News To Live By on Twitter.