The One Thing You Should Always Do After Meeting Someone
by: Shannon McNay
You’ve made plans to meet someone for coffee at noon. You purposely arrived early to grab a table so you two don’t have to awkwardly clamber for one together.
Before that, you emailed to confirm that you’re still meeting and that the time and location still work for the other party. They said yes and you told them you’re looking forward to meeting them.
So far you’ve done everything right.
Cut to an hour later. The meeting is over and you parted ways with a handshake and a “we should definitely do this again.” You head your way and they head theirs. You feel that the meeting went really well.
What do you do next?
The One Thing You Should ALWAYS Do After Meeting Someone
If you’re like many, what you do next is nothing. You sit and wait. Surely the person will contact you again since the meeting went well. Surely time will lead to another opportunity to speak to them, right?
If you’re lucky, that person will follow up with you. But why wait for luck?
Let’s take a look at one possible scenario: You think the other person will reach back out to you, so you sit and wait. The other person thinks you’ll reach back out to them, so they sit and wait…
….a whole lot of nothing happens in this situation.
And another possible scenario: You think the other person comes from a position of higher power or authority or that their time is more valuable than yours. So you don’t reach back out because you don’t want to come on too strong. (Or you think they’ll reach out to you if they want to – and if they don’t, then they’re not interested).
…if they really are that busy, then the likelihood of them reaching back out is even lower. You’ll need to be the one to do it to remind them of your meeting and propose a way to meet up again.
And another possible scenario: Let’s say the person you met with took time out of their busy schedule to offer you advice or assistance. Since they’ve already given you their time, the last thing you want to do is contact them again and come across like a nuisance.
…think about this one from your perspective: What if you took time out of your busy schedule to help someone…and then you never heard from them again. Wouldn’t you appreciate a “thank you”? Wouldn’t their radio silence change how you feel about giving them your time again?
The scenario here isn’t as important as the takeaway. No matter who you meet with, what the meeting is about, or how long the meeting lasts, there’s one thing you should always do afterward:
The one thing you should ALWAYS do after meeting someone is: follow up.
The Art of the Follow-Up
The simple fact is that following up is the polite thing, the professional thing, and the plain old nice thing to do. But doing it right matters! It is possible to send the wrong message if you’re not careful with your follow-up. But there’s good news: you can follow a formula that basically works every time!
- Be Quick
The question of how long you should wait to follow up can feel like the “three-day” rule guys follow after a date. Don’t do that. The main thing you want to do is be quick, but how quick isn’t that important.
Why should you be quick? Because, quite simply, you might forget to follow up otherwise. There’s also a good possibility that you could end up overthinking the follow-up if you let too much time go by. And finally, you want to do it while the meeting is still fresh in the other party’s mind.
My general rule is to follow up later the same day or sometime the next day. I never let it go beyond two days after the meeting. There’s simply no reason to do so (not even a busy schedule).
- Be Brief
Speaking of busy schedules, you have a busy schedule and so do the people you meet with. Let’s just get that fact out of the way now. Everyone’s busy.
For that reason, it’s important to keep your follow-up brief. Don’t send an essay. Don’t be too formal. A simple 3-5 sentence email that’s conversational and friendly should do the trick.
- Say Thank You
The very first thing you should do is say “thank you”. It doesn’t matter if the other party helped you with something or not. They took the time to come meet you and that alone deserves gratitude. A simple, “I appreciate you coming out to meet with me,” or, “Thanks for taking the time…” is all you need.
- When Appropriate, Send More Information
Did you end up with takeaways after your meeting? Perhaps you said you would send an introduction to someone else or you said you’d send an article/book recommendation/presentation/other information on one of the subjects you discussed. This is your opportunity to do so. The other party will feel grateful and impressed (since so few people actually do this).
Let’s say you even got more personal during the meeting and discussed something like a silly youtube video you both liked. This email is a great chance to refer back to that. Remember: you don’t have to overthink any of this. People are still people – if you made a personal connection, continue connecting with them on that level.
*No matter what you do, don’t over-analyze your follow-up email. This is not a big deal, it should not take you more than five minutes. Professional relationships don’t happen overnight – you have to build them slowly, brick by brick. All you’re trying to do with the follow-up email is make another point of contact and say thank you. There will be more opportunities to connect with this person again later. As long as you remain authentic, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
This is Your Community: Care for It the Way a Shepherd Cares for His Flock
The power to create a strong community is 100% in your hands – all you have to do is a little work!
Spend a little time each week meeting new people and maintaining contact with people already in your network. Remember that you only have to build brick by brick. And remember that the people in your network are people. No need to overthink anything. Be human about your interactions every time.
This isn’t something only extroverts can do – we all want and need some level of human interaction. Invest a little bit of time very week into building the pieces that will lead to a strong community and you’re sure to end up with a wealth of fulfillment and opportunity down the road!
Image Credit: Biegun Wschodni