Perhaps the most difficult part of any networking interaction is the initial outreach. It may feel like a great burden… to select the person to get together with, to suggest meeting, to offer up a place, time and location… the logistics, the responsibility, the work! Many of us shirk the opportunity to connect simply because we do not want to take on the added pressure of organizing the gathering! Sort of reminds me of being a young girl and either saying or hear my friends say, “Call me!” thereby putting the onus on the other person to arrange a get together.
In networking, do what you can to take the initiative and responsibility for organizing the meeting. Here are a few tips:
- Tell them. If you meet someone at an event who you want to stay in touch with, ask if they are willing to get together at another time to continue the conversation. Be sure to tell them you will reach out to arrange for a time to meet. In addition to taking responsibility for arranging the meeting, you are also getting their tacit buy-in to accept the invitation when it arrives.
- Calendar it! Take out your smart phone or pocket calendar and write in a time to reach out to the individual. It doesn’t have to be right away… perhaps you agreed to get together in a few months or a couple of times a year. Be sure to schedule the time to contact them so you don’t forget. The person you are going to meet will be both impressed at your follow-through and grateful for your follow-up.
- Suggest specific dates and times. Coordinating schedules is always difficult when we’re talking about busy people. One thing you should not say is, “Interested in getting together? Please suggest some dates and times that are convenient for you.” If you take the first pass at scheduling the meeting, you’ve eliminated half the battle. Even if the initial dates you propose don’t work for your contact, they now have a better sense for your calendar and availability and now they are more likely to respond with other alternatives.
Some people are using online scheduling tools to make the logistical process easier. These types of calendaring tools include brands such as ScheduleOnce, Doodle and Meeting Wizard. Depending on your needs, you might consider checking out one or more of these tools as a way to make the scheduling process a little easier.
Bottom line: Don’t say “Call me!” Instead, step up, take control… you call them!