Networking Event

8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event


Headed to a networking event? Keep these tips in mind…

We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships with colleagues, peers and potential new customers. We pick the events we want to go to and we prepare.

For bigger conferences, we spend even more time preparing for the sessions and events we want to attend, people we want to meet and build in time for random hook ups.

When you return from a conference you had been planning for, sorting it all out in an organized, timely process is the key to beginning the conversion from connection to relationship.

I talk a lot about the importance of blending in-person networking with social media. The importance of Integrating your personal marketing and branding activities to build reach and impact. I delivered this very content recently at XPO NYC, the largest B2B conference in the northeast.

There is the planning to go, being there and the follow up, probably the most important way to leverage your RON: return on networking.

There are three important things to consider after going to any in-person event but especially bigger conferences.

  • Prioritize contacts
  • Customize follow-up messages
  • Timeliness

Here are eight steps for converting the information and connections into actionable relationships after a big conference.

1. Sort Through Your Cards And The People You Met

Hopefully, every card you got was a person you owned a moment with, or had a meaningful exchange with. I like to write a word or two or note on the card to remind me of what we exchanged.

2. Review All The Sessions You Attended

Take the program and review all the sessions you attended and what was presented. Add notes to the notes you actually took during the session while reviewing it.

3. Review All The Notes You Took

Go through all your notes and highlight the key ideas from the speakers and that you wrote down.

4. Review The Handouts And Information You Got

Take the time to review all the handouts, leave behinds, worksheets, post cards you took home with you. Take advantage of any incentives offered to you by the speakers and conference presenters.

5. Prioritize And Define Who To Follow Up With And Why

Although we gather cards at these events, prioritizing the warm connections and ones that make the most sense to follow up on should be followed up on first. Qualify why, and be specific about what you will follow up with them about.

6. Draft A Customized Follow-Up Letter To Each Group

Divide your connections into groups and customize a follow-up letter to them, that makes sense and is appropriate for why you should continue. Being thoughtful about this to them will make a big difference.

7. Invite Them To follow Up On Social Media

This is the bridge that can help you get into people’s communities, stream, conversations and get you started in building commonality. Use LinkedIn as a starting point, add Twitter and then if appropriate Facebook. Comment on their blog, or invite them to yours.

8. Create A 30-Day Follow-Up Plan

Make a 30-day plan for each person or group of contacts that you would like to develop a relationship with. Be consistent, and interact as regularly as possible. Show up and be a part of  the conversation.

Relationships don’t happen in a week!

Work through these eight steps immediately. The timeliness of follow-up is critical. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each other’s minds.

How do you follow up after a networking event and conference?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Deborah Shane

Deborah started out as a rockin’ singer/published songwriter, teacher and award-winning broadcast radio sales professional then transitioned in 2007 out of corporate America and launched DeborahShaneToolBox. Her diverse career background combines entertainment, education, sales and media. She has performed on stage, taught in front of a classroom and won awards for her broadcast radio sales professionalism and small business content marketing.


  1. Very good advice for follow up after a networking event. Don’t just put the business cards you got in a pile and not do anything with them. Actually have a plan to connect, follow up, and continue the relationship.

    • Thanks Debra, but I have noticed it only works when the other party takes the time to reply back and stays in touch long afterwards when you and one in general takes the precious time to reach out with thoughtful links and wondering how to help.

      Wish everybody, even top seasoned execs, followed what you mentioned as unfortunately I have seen top seasoned professionals do not reply back to some gold-hearted people who took the time to schedule an informational interview with them and usually share thoughtful links.

  2. Interesting article. I was wondering if youever encountered situations where you have been the best you can with taking the time and interest in getting to know someone at an event, exchange info and ready to build something, but sadly they never respond back afterwards despite 3 or 4 different follow ups from your side? Or when someone from work you always mixed well with and so helpful, but they never respond back later even you’re still fb friends with them? Thanks. Just wondering on how I can deal with such dilemmas despite being the best I can with trying to reach out? Thanks!

  3. I love this post–such great advice. I have a colleague who probably follows your 8 steps more closely than anyone else I know, but the last time I saw her at a conference she was feeling *bad*. Why? Because she was unable to make time apart from the conference to meet everyone who asked her for coffee, lunch, a drink, etc. When I asked her how many of those people she “let down” had attended her session the answer was “none!” You can’t even get to step one if you don’t attend the sessions! And if you make the choice to treat it like a vacation or a trade show, you can’t make people feel bad for being unavailable because they are actually participating in the conference.

    • Thanks Darcy! I have personally felt let down with taking it personally when I have tried following up with others to meet for coffee or lunch after getting their card, but then am not followed up on. I question why it should ever be like this. Worst, is when having meetups with a specific person before and since last year never hearing a simple, courteous email response or return of call after I going out of my way to reach out.

      Wish the #1 thing happened especially in the professional relationship building or networking world is not to be led on or left hanging wondering what is the actual relationship status with the other person and why must there be an issue at all as nothing wrong with professional, casual relationships.

  4. Good points regarding prioritizing, making notes and follow up. For high quality instant connections you can use your LinkedIn / social network apps to connect on the spot. Also recently have been seeing people put QR codes on their business cards so you can just scan them.

    Side note: The d—— blinking ad next to this comment box is driving me crazy. Will definitely not use this site again.

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