Your Post-Networking To-Do List August 11, 2015 RICCentre Networking doesn’t end after you’ve given a final handshake and swapped contact information. However, many professionals drop the ball when it comes to following up with their business connections. Whether it’s due to a busy schedule or lack of foresight, the follow up just doesn’t happen. Networking is essential to success. Here’s what you can do to make your professional connections really count. Reach Out On Social Media Social media sites like Facebook have brought people together in a way like never before. The same is true for professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. The social networking site has more than 347 million registered members, according to data from social media expert Jeff Bullas. After you’ve exchanged information with a new contact, extend an invite to connect on LinkedIn. If you haven’t done business with this person, LinkedIn will ask you to enter an email address to send an invitation to connect, so be sure to store your contacts somewhere you won’t lose or accidentally delete them. Not only can you keep up with your contacts by endorsing their skills, liking their posts or commenting on new updates, you can keep up to date with their business as well by following their company page. You can find and follow any company by typing in the business name in LinkedIn’s search bar. Send Thanks According to a report from ABC News, 80 percent of jobs are gained via networking. If you’ve got a professional contact to thank for your new gig, consider sending your thanks to his or her office. A simple handwritten thank you note will do, but if you’d like to really go the extra mile consider sending a gift basket. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy items to fill it. Use an online delivery service like FTD to make the process quick and painless, so you can get back to work. Plan Another Networking Event Networking doesn’t always have to be formal. If you’ve made a handful of quality connections and you’ve found that this group all shares the same interests or hobbies, consider hosting a Meetup. By hosting an event outside of a hotel conference room or business center, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your contacts even better. To create your own Meetup, enroll in a subscription plan. After you’ve paid the small fee, explain in detail what your Meetup is all about and chose a location. After you’ve finished the first two steps, Meetup will help you build your community by connecting you with the right members. Afterward, you can use social media to post updates about your group and invite others within your professional network to join. If you’re not ready to organize and plan your own Meetup, search the site to connect with others that share similar interests or professions. For example, The East Valley Web Workers meetup in Gilbert, Arizona, to discuss the Internet and all things related and in San Francisco, Tech4Good gets together on a monthly basis to talk technology. Finding a group is easy, just enter your location and a few keywords and you’ll be greeted with a long list of groups and potential connections.