How do you keep in touch with new business acquaintances?
June 29, 2006 6:03 PM   Subscribe

You've just been to a conference and made many new acquaintances. Now, what is the proper method / etiquette to maintain contact?

At an academic or industry conference, you're bound to meet a few new people from organizations different than your own. When you come home, you probably have a good-sized pile of business cards from the various people you met. To build and maintain a network of professional contacts, it would be beneficial to keep in touch with some people. So how do you do that?

Considering that: (1) a business friend may not always become a social friend, (2) conferences bring together people from geographic areas other than your own, (3) all you may have shared was a brief 10-minute conversation, how do you open a line of communication after an intial meet, and how often should you try to maintain it after that so the person doesn't forget about you?
posted by pricklypear to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Send a LinkedIn request?
posted by k8t at 6:09 PM on June 29, 2006

People have written many, many articles and books about this, but here are two key points:

* Send a brief, individual e-mail to everyone a couple days after the conference, just to say hi, nice meeting you, I enjoyed chatting about x, etc.

* Always note on the back of the card (or in whatever software system you use) what you learned about the person, what they're interested in, and what they're looking for. The very best way to reinitiate contact is to send someone a message that says, "hey, I remember that you were looking for x/needed y/was curious about z, and I can help you by pointing you to this resource/introducing you to this other person/contributing this thing I have... whatever.

That's pretty much it. All the rest is commentary.
posted by j-dawg at 6:20 PM on June 29, 2006

Send e-mail messages along the lines of:

"I enjoyed meeting you last week at the XYZ conference and our conversation together. While it was brief I hope we have the chance to continue it sometime in the future. I look forward to staying in touch with you. Best Regards, pricklypear."
posted by ericb at 6:20 PM on June 29, 2006

Or, what j-dawg said!
posted by ericb at 6:21 PM on June 29, 2006

You build a worthwhile network of professional contacts by becoming involved in industry and professional organizations, by publishing in trade or professional journals, or, generally, by contributing something of yourself in forums where you interact with others. Personally, I've been glad handed at industry gatherings, exchanged business cards with people industriously collecting them, and been added to one to many eager beaver's Contacts database to ever want to be added to another.

Meet me at a user group meeting where you've volunteered to organize the October speakers and program agenda, and I'll cut you some slack. Offer to co-author a paper with me for the organization's next conference or journal, and send me a lucid proposal, initial draft and outline, and I'll do my bit with you on that project, and trade favors in the future.

"Who you've met" does not equate to "Who you know"
posted by paulsc at 6:35 PM on June 29, 2006

If you must catalog every person, add them to some sort of digital address book (e.g., OS X's Address Book) with notes about them and keywords relating to their field and the conference.

If your conversation was interesting and you'd enjoy speaking with a certain person again, email him/her and say so. If you think you should email for the sake of maintaining a connection you have a .04% chance of using four years in the future, don't waste your time or theirs. The valuable connections are the genuine ones -- anything else just adds to the noise in your life.

I agree with paulsc's points as well.
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 10:04 AM on June 30, 2006

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