Tips from Executive RecruiterIf you want to make a good impression, you better not flop the follow-up. Think of a “follow-up” as a way stay connected to those you network with during your job search. An effective follow-up strategy will help you to stay top of mind, and in this competitive job market, you need every advantage you can get to keep your edge.

A few weeks ago, I went to a networking event where I met a dynamic individual who spoke about his current job search efforts. He asked for my opinion, and I shared some feedback about how to strengthen his marketing message so he would stand apart from other candidates. I also offered to introduce him to someone I knew in one of the companies he was targeting.

We had a great conversation, I expressed a willingness to help, I gave him my business card. We probably talked for over 20 minutes, and I was able to supply him with a warm lead.

Yet he failed to follow up.

Don’t Make This Mistake!

A successful job seeker will always have a follow-up plan. You should qualify your contacts for future follow-up; don’t miss opportunities to stay connected with people you meet during networking events who can provide you with assistance. These are called warm leads. Warm leads are opportunities. Opportunities turn into interviews!

The purpose of a follow-up is to stay top of mind without being obnoxious. What I mean by this is that you should not repeatedly call an HR manager to see if they’ve received your resume. They get hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to personally contact everyone to provide a status. You will only irritate them, which will not reflect positively on you.

There are lots of more value-added ways you can connect and follow up with people. Here are a few ideas:

After an Interview

Always write a thank you note to each person you interviewed with, including the HR recruiter. Each note should be personal and address something you spoke about during the interview.

After Submitting a Resume

Instead of inquiring if the resume was received, wait a week or two and write a personal note to reinforce how you can add value in the position you’re applying for. In many cases, specific and relevant communication works better than anything, and this can also be a way to express your enthusiasm and differentiate you from other candidates.

After an Informational Discussion

When you meet with someone to learn about a company or a particular position, you should start with a thank you note, then touch base after a few weeks to share an interesting article with an update on what’s going on with your job search. Again, this will serve as a way to remind the person about your situation and may prompt them to think about any new leads that could be relevant for you.

After a Networking Meeting

Whenever anyone takes the time to network with you, figure out a way you can help that person — then do it! (Click here to tweet this thought.) Periodically email or call these people to see how they are doing and discover ways you can reciprocate.

When Someone Provides You With a Referral

Of course, a thank you note is in order. In addition, after you have a discussion with the referral, send a note to your contact to let them know how the discussion went.

Using LinkedIn to Stay Connected

After you meet someone, in any networking situation, extend them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. As you interact with your LinkedIn connections through group discussions and status updates, this provides a way to keep current with your network.

In General

To cultivate the networking relationships you’re forming, you should reach out to select people in your network periodically with a phone call or email. Find out what’s going on with them and share a status about yourself.

This should continue even after you find a position, because by staying in touch you will strengthen these relationships, which will make it easier to ask for assistance should you need some again.

Now, Take Action!

Use these tips to take charge and follow up with the connections in your network. You will find that people appreciate that you took the time to stay in touch. Using a strategy like this will increase your chances that people will think about you when a relevant opportunity arises.

What are your best network development tips? Share in the comments!

Image: Wirawat Lian-udom