How to build your network: The follow-up email

So you met someone impressive at a conference or you finally scored some face time with the director of a big research institute. Now what? If you don’t follow up with this contact they are not really a part of your professional network. So get on those follow up emails!

If you have an immediate goal or collaboration in mind you can easily email your new contact with further details. But what if you just want to remain connected? Some contacts are interesting or important enough that it is worth just staying connected with them. The connection is likely to become useful in the future. This is especially applicable when early career researchers are meeting directors of institutes or departments, leaders in your field or research funders.

Writing a general follow up networking email is very straightforward. The purpose of the email is to stay on their radar – that’s it. Often we get bogged down with trying to come up with an excuse for staying in touch but that really isn’t necessary.

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1: A formal greeting is always a good idea. Even if you have had a particularly friendly chat with a more senior contact, start your email correspondence off with a formal greeting and take their lead on whether to go informal on the next email. If they sign off their email with their first name, address them by their first name on the next email.

2: Remind your contact where you met. Even if you are contacting them the same day or the day after you met, a quick reminder is helpful. If your contact is very senior it is likely they are getting emails all the time from contacts and it can be difficult to remember who is who.

If your contact gave you some advice when you spoke or if they were particularly helpful this is the time to say thanks and remind them of your conversation.

3: Tell them how you would like to stay connected. The suggestion above is pretty vague and will allow you to contact them as and when your research (or project, work, etc) gets to a certain stage. You could replace the last paragraph with:

  • I am looking to develop my project in the next six months. I will keep you informed as my plans take shape.
  • I enjoyed our conversation about [research interest/discipline]. I will be sure to drop you a line when my project takes shape.

 

Hit send and bask in the glow of your newly expanded network.

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