Networking Follow-Up Campaign Guide [+Templates]

Networking is a great way to connect with people who can take your business to the next level, whether they are potential mentors, partners, or clients.

Unfortunately, proper networking involves more than just showing up to an event with a stack of business cards. It takes a lot of effort, which makes it even worse if you leave with nothing to show for all your hard work.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. By sending smart follow-up emails, you can make sure all that time doesn’t go to waste. But what’s the best way to follow-up? How can you increase your chances of a winning response? From pre-event strategies to the best follow-up subject lines, these tips and templates will help you stand out for all the right reasons.

At the event

Hopefully, you’re reading this before you go to a networking event because the best way to send a winning follow-up email is to lay the groundwork at the actual event. This preparation will drastically increase the chance you’ll get a positive response.

You should have a clear goal in mind before you attend any networking event. What do you want to accomplish? Are you looking to connect with a mentor who will take you under their wing? A business partner who can open up doors to new opportunities? Or your dream client who will take you to the big time? While it’s possible to meet all three, you’ll increase your chance of success if you focus on one objective.

With that objective in mind, how do you know who’s likely to be attending the event? If you could only have three conversations at the event, do you know who they’ll be with? Having specific goals is great, but having specific names is even better, as you’ll have a chance to research them before you attend. It’s much better to approach that big-name with a clear talking point in mind, rather than coming up with a generic line (or my personal favorite, talking about the weather).

Finally, remember quality trumps quantity. It’s far better to have one meaningful conversation with someone who can help you reach your goals than hand out a thousand business cards at random. That clear objective will help you stay focused during the event, rather than being pulled in a million different directions. You’re more likely to be remembered and your follow-up email is more likely to be opened, rather than archived with the rest.

Template – Following up with a potential mentor

Hey {First.Name},

It was great meeting you at {Networking.Event} Thanks again for taking the time to give me some feedback on my business idea. I know how valuable your time is, so it meant a lot to me. I’ve followed your advice and {taken.action}, can’t wait to see the results!
Drop me a line next time you’re in {the.area}, lunch is on me.

Regards,
{Your.name}

Follow-up subject lines

Whatever kind of email you’re sending, the right subject line is vital. A good subject line will be informative and give the recipient a reason to open the email. A bad subject line will mean even the best email will never be seen. Even though it’s the shortest part of any email, its impact means the subject line is also the most important part.

So what makes a good subject line?

Length – At Reply, we’ve found subject lines of two to six words work best in general. Remember, odds are your email will be opened on a mobile device, so that awesome-but-long subject line may end up cut in half. When in doubt, use as few words as possible to get your idea across clearly (which brings us nicely onto our next point).

Clarity – There’s something about the pressure of writing a winning subject line that sends people a little crazy. Having read they should use the subject to arouse curiosity, many resort to ‘clever’ tactics. Some of them are just plain spammy (more on that later). Others try so desperately to sound smart they confuse the recipient. Confusion is not the same as curiosity. Avoid witty wordplay and cryptic clues, and instead, focus on giving a clear idea of what’s inside.

Personalization – A personalized subject-line is always going to get more interest than a non-personalized one. However, it’s getting harder to stand out, especially in something as short as a subject line. A {first.name} merge tag is a start, but it’s no longer enough to guarantee attention. You need to go further. For a networking follow-up email, personalizing your subject line to what you discussed is a great way to get their attention and remind them of who you are, convincing them this isn’t just another spam email.

Non-spammy – Take a look through your junk folder, and you’ll see that most spam emails are obvious from their subject lines. They’re usually over-enthusiastic and promote services I have no interest in (my folders full of the usual ‘enhancement’ offers and, slightly more bizarre, promotions for drones and woodworking tutorials). While these subject lines seem obvious in our inboxes, it’s easy to make the same mistakes when we send our networking follow-up emails. Make sure your networking emails aren’t unintentionally coming across as spammy by keeping your subject lines relevant, avoiding exaggeration, and never trying to trick your recipient into opening the email with a misleading subject or a cheeky RE: It’s not worth it!

Some subject lines you might want to try:

  • Great meeting you at {event}
  • Here’s that {helpful.resource} you wanted
  • How’s {their.project} going?
  • Let’s grab that coffee
  • Following up on {topic.discussed}

Make it all about them

Hopefully, you had a great time at the networking event and enjoyed a few meaningful conversations with the right people. You’re excited to follow up on the chat, but you’re also nervous. What goes into the email? This might be your one big chance to build a friendship, rather than be just another “Oh, we met once at some conference.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So you start writing an email that convinces them you’re the (wo)man. You tell them all about what makes you and your business awesome. How you started your company. All those awards you’ve won. All the products and services you offer…

*Yawn”

Whether you’re trying to find a mentor or hook a client, your communication should revolve around them. This goes for both your conversation at the networking event and your follow-up email.

At the event, make it your aim to learn more about them than you tell them about yourself. What’s going on in their professional lives? What big projects are they working on? What are they excited about? Keep in mind this isn’t about having a checklist of questions you tick off though. Show sincere interest in the person and actually listen to what they have to say (rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next). If you’ve listened more than you talked, your follow-up email will write itself. Follow up on your conversation, with a focus on them and their goals, and they’re much more likely to respond positively.

Even if you’re trying to find clients, you shouldn’t be using your follow-up email to sell. Instead, be helpful. Share a resource (such as a blog post, podcast episode, or ebook) you’ve found that’ll help them with a challenge they’re facing. Alternatively, introduce them to someone else in your network who can help them meet their goals.

Template: Following up with a potential client

Hi {First.Name},

How was the trip back from {event}? I enjoyed our chat about {their.interest} and remembered this {relevant.resource} you might find helpful. Let me know what you think!

Regards,

{Your.name}

Fill in the blanks with research

While you’re at the event, the best way to finish your conversation is to set up the follow-up. Ask if they want to continue the conversation another time, and exchange email addresses. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, if they mentioned how they’re struggling with a particular problem and you read a book that helped you overcome a similar problem, offer to look it up and send them the name when you get back.

Pro-tip: Don’t just send them the name of the book—send them a Kindle copy or, for a physical reminder, order them a hardcopy

However, what if you didn’t get the chance to set up your follow-up? What if the conversation was unexpectedly ended, and you didn’t even get the chance to get their email address? All is not lost! It just means you’ll have to do a little research before you follow up.

The first step is finding and verifying their email address. If you’re lucky it’ll be publicly available online, but if you can’t find it on their website there are plenty of tools that can help you. Name2Email can help you find the right email address and Reply comes with free standard email validation.

Depending on how far you got in your conversation, you might have to find out a bit more about their interests so you can make the email relevant to them (see above). The easiest way is to look through their website, particularly any news or blog sections. What are they writing about? What new features or services are they offering? I personally find a quick search on LinkedIn helpful, where you can check out their recent activity and find out what has their attention.

Template: Using research

Hi {First.Name},

It was great to meet you at {event}. I’m so sorry our conversation was cut short!

I heard you’re working on {new.project}—sounds like it’ll be a real game changer for the industry. I was hoping to learn more about how that’s going—would it be possible to continue our chat over a coffee? When would suit you?

Thanks,

{Your.name}

Keep it short and snappy

When it comes to communication, shorter is usually better. It’s better to leave them wanting more than to outstay your welcome. This goes for any conversation at a networking event, and double for your follow-up email.

Even if you’re making the email all about them (see above), when someone opens an email and sees an essay, they’re likely to ‘save it for later’ and will forget about it. Rather than trying to set the world right with one email, focus on one key point.

Depending on how your initial conversation went, this might be sharing a helpful resource, arranging a meeting, or simply following up on something they said. Don’t overcomplicate your email by trying to do everything, and don’t waste valuable space.

Remember, this isn’t a cold email. You’ve spoken to them, they (presumably) gave you their email address, and hopefully, they remember who you are. Lengthy introductions are never a good idea, but they’re particularly pointless when the recipient already knows who you are. Instead, keep your follow-up email to only the necessary parts:

  • Greeting
  • Quick reminder of where they know you from.
  • Purpose of email
  • CTA
  • Sign off.

Imagine you have to pay for every word you send. Cut out all the fluff!

Template: Request to meet

Hi {first.name},

It was great talking with you at {event} and learning more about how you do {task} at {company}.

It’d be great to continue our conversation, would you be up for a coffee this Friday? On me, naturally.

Thanks,

{Your.name}

Networking is a great way to meet new people and grow your business, but it takes effort. By following up you can make sure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Whatever kind of business you’re building, Reply can help. Whether you’re cold-emailing potential clients, responding to inbound leads, or following up on those important networking opportunities, Reply lets you automate your emails while still keeping them personal. Sign up for a free 14-day trial today.

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