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The Critical Part of Networking Most People Fail to Do

SXSW Networking

These people took a crazy photo at SXSW… and then exchanged business cards.

Every year in mid-March, tens of thousands of people exchange business cards in Austin, Texas.

After all, 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. In fact, on March 11 rocker Neil Young dropped in to promote Pono, the up and coming online music site. Better believe there were industry movers and shakers in that crowd.

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?

Most people look at the card pile and think “Eh, I’ll never see these strangers again. Where’s the trash can?”

And that’s where we leave out 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.

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 single 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

*If you lost the business card but still want to reach out, connect with the person on LinkedIn and send a message there.

Yes, this is extra work. Yes, it’s time you’d rather spend sleeping after an intense day of talking, walking and watching concerts like Coldplay and Pitbull at SXSW — which anyone can view online for free.

So what. 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?

Your call.

Sample Follow-Up Networking Emails

If you need a job:

Hi ____,

It was really great to meet you at [wherever you were] earlier today. [Insert friendly line about your conversation or something the person told you. Prove you were paying attention]

As promised, I want to pass along my resume. It’s attached to this email.

Once you’ve had a look, it would be great to talk further about how my experience can help your company. I’ve been working hard on [particular skill that company needs], and I’d like to discuss what I can bring to the table.

Please let me know if you have time for a short phone call.

Thanks again.

- You

Gotta tell ya. Emails like the one above are the perfect place to drop a link to your blog. You don’t have a blog? It’s time you did, and here’s why.

If you have a job:

 

Hi _____,

It was really great 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 companies 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.

If you’d like to talk further, please let me know. I’m free later this week for a quick phone call.

Thanks again.

- You

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More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

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