The Career Changing Art of Following Up

We thought it was high time to make a blog post on literally one of our top three most asked questions at Metro EDGE: what do I do with the new contacts I got at the last virtual EDGE event I attended? This blog will touch on a few different scenarios, and just because we want you to be REALLY successful, we’ll even draft up language for you to use. Seeing EDGErs connect outside of events (virtually, of course) makes us just as happy. 

Part 1: Permission granted to do what feels right for YOU

Do I have to email everyone who gave me their card? Do I lose a chance of connecting with them if I don’t follow-up immediately?

Nope! Believe it or not, despite you being AWESOME, your new professional connection probably didn’t stay up all night wondering if you were going to email them.

However, when you give someone your card you are communicating that you are open to them contacting you for work-related matters. What does that mean?

It means that since someone gave you their card, you have permission to connect when it makes sense.

Bad Etiquette Alert! Don’t say you’ll follow up and then don’t. Nothing gives you a bad reputation like not keeping your word.

Part 2: How to follow up to meet your goals

There are several different reasons people attend Metro EDGE events. We’ll walk through a couple business card scenarios for the most likely situations.

No Matter What: Add them to your contacts. As an aside, at my firm specializing in social impact initiatives, I have been focusing exclusively on education and workforce programs for the last five years. This past month, I was assigned to a project with a health-related focus, and I was VERY glad I didn’t toss all my business cards from health organizations.

[GENERAL] You’re Seeking to Expand Your Network, Without a Specific Objective

Route 1: Connect on LinkedIn because of common interests such as:

  • current occupations
  • career goals
  • community/civic engagement interests

Why? LinkedIn profiles essentially serve as a database and a network all at once. It’s an easy way to stay in touch as contact information shifts, and a great way to tap into his or her network. (LinkedIn will continue to suggest contacts that are right for you based on your interests.)

BONUS! When you are looking at jobs, Linkedln will tell you which of your connections work there, giving you a chance at a referral.

The real-real: The whole point of LinkedIn is to expand your network, and borderline show off how many connections you have. Rejection on this platform is few and far between, but that being said, not everyone logs in every day. Don’t fret if you don’t get your request to connect immediately accepted.

[Something/Someone peaked your interest more generally?]

Route 2: Make a [Professional] Date

Not to sound like a broken record, but I REPEAT, someone gave you their business card to give you permission to contact them. If you have a strong urge to learn more about a person’s profession, industry, or skill set, feel free to send an email to see what their availability is. There is no expectation to have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious reason to ask someone to a virtual coffee break or happy hour zoom. No one is going to say no to an opportunity to talk about themselves!

Sample follow-up email for within 1-2 weeks of meeting:

Hello, it was great meeting you last night. I’d love to hear more about:

  • What you do
  • How you like being in the _____ sector
  • How you’ve approached _____ situation at work

Schedule permitting, maybe we can find some time to connect in the next couple weeks. Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!


Your Name

Sample follow-up email for months after the meeting:

Hi there, we met at a Metro EDGE event back in March, and I remember you talking about enjoying working in marketing in Sacramento. I would love to hear more about what you do, and generally catch up! Free to connect anytime in the near future?


Your Name

Pro-tip: Just because it’s a professional date, doesn’t mean you have to talk all business. Start with asking how their day is going, or how their weekend was. If you need more discussion topics after talking about your jobs, feel free to get their take on recent events or even their favorite spot to eat in Sacramento. EDGE is a place where people come together to discuss new ideas and activities-- it’s a great way to open your perspective!

[Connect on a topic outside of the professional realm?] Route 3: Go on a Casual [but Professional-ish] Date!

While Metro EDGE convenes young professionals on the rise, that’s typically one of many overlapping interests in our crowd. In conversations, many members find similar interests in community events, fitness, eating, drinking, video games, and more. Offer to connect on Instagram, Twitter, or over a virtual happy hour. Some EDGE members come to EDGE to not talk about work, and that’s okay too. It’s not surprising that such connections lead to fun activities and eventually friendships!

EXCEPTIONS and SPECIAL CASES (because we want to set you up to put your best foot forward)

The examples and text above are for general, less urgent situations when you got a great professional vibe from someone and would like to keep in touch.

But let’s be real. The hustle never stops, and we want to address how to go about follow-up and meetings when the stakes are higher.

If you are following up with the intent of landing a job at that individual’s company or are doing a “get to know you” with a high-profile professional (CEO, director, elected official), treat it like a job interview.

  • Do your research. Make sure you have questions beyond “tell me about your firm.” Ask their take on current events, especially if they’re relevant to their industry. Not only will this engage their expertise (giving you an opportunity to learn), but it also presents you as an individual who’s up to date and aware of multiple industry sectors.
  • Do a double (or triple) take of your outfit to present an air of “I put intention behind my look today and also everything else I do.”
  • Not to contradict number one, but go with the flow. Prioritizing a connection with someone over hitting the points on your agenda will help you go further in the long run.
  • Follow up with a thank you email or connection on LinkedIn and thank them for their time.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid! People are perceptive and will be able to tell if you’re nervous. Be curious, engage genuinely, and always remember the best thing to do is #MakeYourMark!

What’s the next EDGE event where I can collect some new contacts? I’m READY.

Executive Insight is October 20, 2020! It’s an opportunity to add local and state executives from many sectors into your network, dig deep into their careers, and MAYBE learn a secret weapon or two. This event is sure to sell out so visit the event registration page to see this year’s executive line-up and grab your ticket!

Anna Fontus is the Community Engagement Lead for Metro EDGE where she specializes in diversity, inclusion, and of course connecting and empowering Sacramento young professionals. Outside of EDGE, she is the Vice Chair for Paratransit, Inc., a policy wonk, and not your average foodie! Catch her on Twitter or Instagram to connect with her.