Follow-through and followup: How to give back

You send that email. You get a meeting. You buy the coffee. You ask your questions. You say thanks again over email.

Then what?

The biggest problem with networking, the reason that term by itself sounds so sleazy, is that it’s usually so selfish. You get what you want, and then you abandon the people you met, never to contact them again.

Or even if you do get in touch again, it’s starting from scratch again, because, again, you send that email, get a meeting, buy the coffee, ask your questions, and say thanks again over email.

The difficulty is that when you’re talking with the most in-demand people, the ones who also often have the highest chance of helping you get somewhere, you wonder, “What can I really offer them? Why would they want to talk to me or give me their best advice or recommend me?”

The answer is that, yeah, most of the time you can’t really pay them back financially or get them a connection they couldn’t already get or advise them in any meaningful way, but you can respect the effort they put into helping you by doing what they say, taking their advice, following through with their suggestions, and then following up by responding three weeks later with the best testimonial they’ve ever seen.