You know what’s an awesome feeling? Meeting someone who can help further your career—whether that means getting you an “in” at your dream company or just feeding you awesome career advice.
You know what’s a less awesome feeling? Sending that initial “It was so great to meet you!” email and never hearing back. Or debatably worse, hearing back—but seeing the conversation fizzle within one back-and-forth exchange.
Good news: There’s probably nothing wrong with you if this keeps happening. It’s all in how you frame yourself and the potential relationship. Read on if you’re looking for three surefire ways to get your shiny new contact to respond.
1. Point Out the Other Person’s Goals
The most important thing to keep in mind is what the other person would be getting out of this exciting new relationship. It’s easy to get so caught up in what we want (an “in” at this company! A new press contact!), that we forget to ask ourselves if the other person finds this arrangement as mutually beneficial.
Before you start imagining this stellar new person magically solving all of your career dilemmas, write down three ways you could help this person before you reach out. If you can easily come up with three concrete, useful ideas, it’s easy to leverage those in follow-up emails and eventual coffee sessions.
For example, here’s how I would email someone who’s a few steps higher than me on the ladder to show my value as a contact:
I'm so glad Jackie introduced us! She told me that you were hoping to talk to someone about intern engagement who was more recently on that side of things—so let me know how I can be of service. Also, I was also hoping to talk to you about your expereinces as a social media manager at Company Y.
Looking forward to grabbing coffee or chatting on a call soon!
If you’re coming up with nada, you might want to consider that your ask is too big or too taxing—and it’s turning the other person off to anything more than a polite response back.
2. Don’t Give Up Easily
If you’re not hearing back from someone, remember the importance of being politely persistent. Don’t take offense if someone doesn’t respond to your first email right away—just because right now is a convenient time for you doesn’t meant that the other person is so lucky.
General follow-up rules state to give someone a week to get back to you. After that, a second follow-up email is fair game.
However, don’t simply send a one-sentence “Hey, just following up!” message. Be sure to get specific with a quick summary of how you met, why you want to meet, and your request. Make it easy for someone to want to get to know you.
Here’s an email I’ve sent in the past to a new connection who was slow getting back to me:
So happy that Lucy was able to introduce us at last month’s tech meet-up! I loved getting to hear about your latest fundraising round—that’s incredible.
I wanted to follow up about grabbing coffee this month to discuss your brand presence (we talked about exchanging pointers!) and your experiences with Company X.
Let me know when you’re free to meet up. Looking forward to it!
In only a few sentences, I reminded the other person of how and where we met, what we talked about, and how we could potentially help one another.
3. Show Random Acts of Kindness
When building a relationship with someone new, we often think about the big actions—such as that person putting in a good word when we’re applying for a job or getting us tickets to a sold-out conference. However, the best relationships are built through lots of small interactions over time, which is why random acts of kindness are so important.
What can you do to show new contacts some love?
- Send an email to congratulate him or her on a big professional success (company successes count, too!).
- Tweet an article to him or her that might be helpful, or even just relevant.
- Offer to do a small favor before you’re asked—such as sharing relevant donation information for a cause she’s currently promoting on social media.
By showing people you’re genuinely interested in who they are (instead of just their job titles or roles), it opens the door to longer-lasting relationships.
Be attentive, genuine, and kind, and you’ll be turning (almost) every new introduction into a meaningful contact in no time.