Ask The Networking Expert: How Soon Should I Contact People I’ve Just Met?

How Soon Should I Contact People I’ve Just Met?You’ve attended a business mixer, trade show or other type of networking event.  You’ve exchanged cards with numerous folks and even had a few good conversations as well.  Now what?

Do you file their card on your desk somewhere — meaning to give them a call sometime? (ah, yes, the “good intentions” pile . . . )

Do you go one step further and add their info to your Outlook or other contact management system?

Do you immediately add them to your email newsletter list? (I hope not!  Remember — get their permission before contacting them in any way)

Timing is everything.  It can be the difference between making a real connection with someone or just becoming a faceless name in someone’s database.  Which would you prefer?

I’ve seen the full spectrum of follow-up recommendations — anything from sending a note 5 minutes after leaving the event to sometime within 2 weeks.  Personally, I feel that following up within 48 hours of meeting someone is “the sweet spot.”

Let’s face it.  Our schedules don’t always allow us to be able to sit down and write a few notes immediately after an event — it’s just not always possible.  But, if we don’t follow-up right away, we often forget, procrastinate or just plain don’t.

So, I say within 2 days.

This is soon enough after meeting that your conversation may still be fresh in your new contact’s mind and they may still have your business card as well. (in other words, it hasn’t been lost in desk clutter or thrown away because they have forgotten who you are . . . )  The key is to “refresh” the contact’s memory of you and your meeting by referring to two things:

1)  Where you met — the meeting, conference, event and date

2)  Something specific you talked about — the topic of interest, hobby, business issue or item for follow up you promised

If you wait any longer than 2 days, then YOU probably won’t remember these things — let alone the other person you are contacting.

I always recommend to my clients and workshop participants that if you have an event or meeting scheduled in your calendar, then also schedule 15 minutes or so within the 2 days following the event for follow up — and PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR!

Yes, schedule follow up time.  If you don’t, then you will be forever trying to “fit it in” to your already packed schedule and numerous last minute items that come up. (and we all know how well that works, don’t we?)

If you want to be memorable, then remember to follow up within 2 days.

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  1. I totally agree. Lots of events are packed with people and you could meet so many people so to be in touch soon after is key; the sooner the better. And using your calendar will definitely help. Once you are done with the event it’s back to all you have to do and you could easily forget to catch up with the great few you’ve met.

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Super relevant and I have often struggle with the timing of reaching back. Thanks for the hints and tips. Your blog rocks. I’m definitely following you :) great resource. Thanks to Kim Garst for her blog lovin wednesdays #forthewin

    • Thank you, Rebecca! Follow up is probably the number one issue for most of us in business — it takes time and that is something we are all needing more of, right?

      Thanks for following – looking forward to your input on future posts!

  3. Great tips on networking & following up. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I never thought to add follow up time to my calendar. That would certainly eliminate forgetting to follow up. I know I’m guilty of not following up soon enough and then I feel awkward reaching out because too much time has gone by.

  5. I like the 48-hour guideline, too. We’ve got short memories today!

  6. Personally I often follow up as soon as possible with someone, whether it is for personal or business reasons. I also believe it keeps the conversation or interaction fresh in both people’s minds, and including a reference, makes sense to offer the person a chance to remember you and what you talked about. Thanks for the 48-hour rule Cathy, as it is great to have some flexibility and not think I must keenly follow up immediately. Appreciate your tips on this!

    • Kudos, Beverley! Personally, I tend to follow up really well unless it’s something I’m not excited about or dreading. Then, that’s when the feet dragging happens!

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. I agree also, two days is just right for a follow-up. As soon as I’m finished a meeting, regardless if it’s in person or an online meeting, a reminder goes in my calendar immediately. Great post!

  8. I think the idea of scheduling follow-up time is so important. If you don’t, time will slip away from you and the next thing you know, it’s been so long you feel embarrassed to call.

  9. Katarina says:

    Thanks, you are right. Actually, I forget these things easily, I am not very good at it and often probably lose the momentum. Need to get better.

    • Good point about momentum, Katarina — building in time for proper follow up will help keep the flow going and build the relationship. Otherwise, why bother networking?

      Thanks for your comment!

      PS — I love your blog about wine and travel. It’s beautiful!

  10. I like the 48-hour rule, as well. Long enough time to give distance, short enough time that they should still remember you. I also loved how you subtly reminded us not to put new connections on our blast email list without their permission. Sometimes we get so eager, we forget such things.

  11. Great suggestions and I agree that within 2 days is good. Soon enough that the person will, hopefully, remember you and still be interested in moving ahead.

  12. 2 days is a good number for me. As you stated, life happens and it’s not always feasible to send messages right away but the longer I wait the more the faces and conversations begin to blend.

  13. Great points. I agree 48 hours is perfect.

  14. I would have said 24 hours, but 48 works, too. And you’re right — who the heck remembers much longer than that? I do try to jot notes on the back of the biz card while the info is fresh, which reminds me — don’t glossy stock on business cards. The ink has a tendency to smear. Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

    • I believe as soon as possible is best, Jackie, but within 48 hours seems to make it more do-able for most folks.

      And I second the glossy biz cards — nothing like taking notes and then not being able to read them!

  15. I am guilty of not always following up on time and then missing some opportunities. I love the system of scheduling time in your calendar to do it so you don’t procrastinate. Thanks, Cathy!

  16. Good reminder, online or offline, the key is in the follow up.

  17. Erika Kalmar says:

    Great tip Cathy! 2 days seems like a great time frame, not too pushy and not long enough to forget the other person. It happened to me a lot that people followed up with me and forgot to remind me where we met, so those 2 things to refer to you mention are really useful!

  18. Great recommendation! I’ve always wondered what the “sweet spot” is. I don’t wanna be annoying and follow up too soon… But experience also tells me that waiting too long means that they won’t remember me if I do get around to it finally, or that I’ll simply procrastinate to the point of totally forgetting.

    • Thanks, Natalie. I think it’s important to find a system that works best for each individual — but it’s key to follow up in a timely manner or risk being forgotten.

  19. This is a great reminder and it usually depends on how I left the person. If we were engaged and they wanted additional information, then I contact right away….otherwise it might be a day or two, and if we had a great convo, I’ll usually ask them when it’s best to follow up

    • I agree, Kristen. If the conversation was particularly engaging or there was a definite request for more info, then I tend to follow up that day, too.

      And, I love that you actually ASK when/how to follow up with folks — that can make all the difference in getting a response!

  20. I always try to follow up within 48 hours. I have a scanner next to my laptop which really helps with getting the information transferred from their business cards to my CRM. I actually block off an hour on my calendar and set reminders in advance of an event that I anticipate collecting a lot of cards so I don’t lose sight of this.