By Becky Bower | ApplyConnect
Whether you’re a networking newbie at multifamily events or you’re a true rental tradeshow veteran, knowing how to follow up with exhibitors and vendors after the conference is a crucial step to networking. Don’t let the connections you built up at a tradeshow go to waste. If you take the time to properly follow up and build relationships with your colleagues and vendor representatives, you’ll be able to reap the career benefits later on.
Be the First One to Call or Email
With any relationship, if you want to be work BFFs, you got to reach out first… and the sooner, the better. It’s undeniable that after a major tradeshow or conference, you’re likely exhausted and have way too much work to catch up on, but that’s why taking the first step to get in touch (despite your busy schedule) is so important. While it’s likely that the vendor you’re interested in will contact you first, you shouldn’t rely on this for every networking situation. No exhibitor or vendor relationship is built on one-sided communication. If you’re truly interested, don’t wait. Take it into your own hands. As William Arthur Ward said, “Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.”
Success! You have successfully followed up with a few colleagues and vendors, all while managing your busy schedule. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now that you’ve re-broken the ice, it’s time to jump in deeper. Invite them to coffee to talk about what they think about their property management software. Introduce them to a co-worker who knows more about the problems they’re facing. Email them a heads up about some multifamily legislation that recently passed in their state. It’s not enough for a contact to remember you. You need to build up that connection if you want to reap the benefits later and move up in your field.
One of the most difficult things about networking isn’t meeting new people, it’s maintaining the relationships you currently have. Over time you’ll go to many multifamily networking events, conferences, and tradeshows, which will only increase the number of contacts you need to stay in touch with. Get organized. Curate your professional social media channels to include colleagues, co-workers, and vendor representatives you’re close with. This will not only give you an opportunity to use Twitter or LinkedIn to keep in touch, but give you an inside look into the resources professionals share about the rental housing industry. Set reminders to send a casual, “How have you been?” email every few months.
While following up on contacts can be tricky, as long as you relax, take a deep breath, and approach old conference friends professionally but personably, you’ll be fine. Plus, the more experience you have, the easier it gets. Good luck!