Ask Anthony: How Do I Follow Up With People I Meet At an Engineering Conference?

June 28, 2018

I recently had the honor of serving as one of the keynote speakers for a luncheon at the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute Congress, which was held in Minneapolis earlier this month.

I spoke on the topic of successfully transitioning from civil engineer to manager, and included tips for building strong managerial skills.

Some of the skills I touched on were communication (with colleagues and clients), networking and building relationships, productivity (including email management), and leadership (including how to engage with people, practice high-leverage management, and delegate effectively).

At the end of my talk, an engineer in the audience asked a great question in response to my recommendation to network with others while attending conferences. She asked, “How do I follow up with people that I meet at an engineering conference?”

To answer this, I want to give you a simple three-step process to follow for effective follow-up with people. Engineers like reliable processes, right?

1. Identify whether a contact is someone you plan to work within the near future.

Ask yourself if this is someone you will work with over the next three to six months. For example, maybe you’ll be serving with them on a committee of some sort or you’re interested in teaming with their firm on projects in the near future.

2. Reach out to them soon after the conference.

If the answer to question No. 1 is yes, then reach out to them the week after the conference. This can be done in a simple email reinforcing that you are looking forward to working with them on the committee or the project. You could opt for a phone call instead, with a similar sentiment. If the answer to the question in step No. 1 is no, and you won’t be working or talking to the person in the near term, then skip to step No. 3 below.

Anthony Fasano speaks at the 2018 EWRI Congress.

3. Connect with the person via LinkedIn.

Connect with the person on LinkedIn and, when doing so, add a specific note to your request depending on your relationship with the person and where you see it going. If you plan to work with the person in the future, it could be similar to the sentiment expressed in the reach-out described in step No. 2 above. If it is someone you probably won’t work within the near future, then you can say something like, “It was nice meeting you at the EWRI conference, I look forward to staying in touch over LinkedIn.” This provides another avenue for keeping in touch with that person.

As time progresses, you might reach out again to these individuals, but this three-step process is a good one to apply once you return from a conference. I hope you find it useful.

Anthony Fasano, P.E., M.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Management Institute (previously known as the Engineering Career Coach), which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast and he is the author of a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills here.

Anthony has also recently started the Engineering Management Accelerator to help engineers become more effective managers: www.EngineerToManager.com.

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