Networking events are one of the easiest ways to make new contacts and fill your phone with potential collaborators or clients but what happens next? We've always felt that meeting in person is a stronger connection than via Twitter, for example, so the foundations should be in place for an approach but how do you make the most out of your networking night? To help expedite the process we've compiled a few tips on developing your contacts whether you're looking to collaborate with other freelancers or hoping to land the job.

  1. Get the details somewhere safe. After a great networking night, you've undoubtedly met some interesting people but the mind may still be a little fuzzy from those dastardly margaritas. The common mistake here is that you put names and numbers in your 'contacts' app on your phone never to be seen again. By all means use your phone but have a system in place that allows you to find your new contacts from the night before. Adding an asterisk (*) in front of the name will keep them at the top of your contacts and differentiate them from your other contacts. For a more sophisticated solution try the Tacts App that allows you to manage your contacts into various sectors keeping them filed safely away and enabling you to group message in future. When it comes to business cards, make sure to enter the details into your phone, spreadsheet or contact list first thing in the morning - they have a terrible habit of ending up in the washing machine. 
  2. Connect softly. You may not want to reach out to everyone immediately but you don't want to wait too long to approach your new contact list either. A soft connect is a great way to keep your new names in your circle for a future approach. Choose a social media platform (or two) that you use and follow, like, connect or friend request. We've found contacts can get lost in Twitter whereas Google+, Facebook (profile) or LinkedIn are more suitable. Liking a new contact's Facebook page won't really keep them in your mind's eye so consider how close you want to get and what platform will allow you to properly keep in touch. 
  3. Make an approach. When the time's right, reach out and say hi. You won't land the job playing it cool so put together an email or message to get the conversation started. The message is very much dependant on the person and conversation you had at the networking event. The general rule of thumb is to keep it short and professional to get the ball rolling. 
  4. Follow up. There's a fine line between persistence and full blown stalking so learn the difference. After a few days, if you still haven't heard anything back then it's fine to chase up with a reminder. Should this still result in a blank, it's often best to leave it for a while. An alternative approach is to drop a comment on one of their profiles as a nudge to reminder of who you are.  

To be apart of our Freelance Member's Meet Ups and join our networking community, keep an eye on our Events page for upcoming dates. Alternatively, join us on Twitter for our Virtual Networking hour #TFCHour every Monday from 8pm - 9pm.