They say first impressions are everything. But does it really end there? What about the second, third or maybe fourth impression? It doesn’t always have to be “You had me at ‘hello’” moments that make you worth remembering. Last month, the American Student Dental Association took their advocating skills to the Capitol and met with Congressmen and women to lobby issues that affect our profession. I bet each meeting went something like this: Students introducing themselves to staff members or Congressmen with a handshake, bright smile and a warm demeanor. Students and staff members walk to a meeting room, sit, and students share the two bills that are on ASDA’s agenda. Staff member asks questions, explains their position, and tell the students they’ll present this to the Congressman. Students and staff shake hands, ask when they can follow up, and bid farewell.
Regardless of whom you are meeting with whether it is a Congressman, a potential employer, or your dean, the real work happens after you leave that meeting. Making that critical first impression is important. What is equally as important is how to make that impression linger after that initial contact.
The principle of “follow up” is key to all interactions. It extends that initial meeting and keeps you in the mind of that person or people you met. Follow up shows genuine interest. It shows your conversation wasn’t a one-and-done scenario. It shows that you care about their thoughts and value any subsequent communication you may have with them.
Ways you can keep that open communication with someone through follow up can be done through many media. Below I have listed four ways you can follow up with someone on a scale of recommended to highly-recommended.
4. Facebook message/LinkedIn
Depending on the person you met with, Facebook or LinkedIn might be the better option for you to follow up with them. This is not to be used for professional correspondence, but if used after meeting a fellow ASDA member from a different school, it is an option to thank them for meeting with you, and discuss future meeting opportunities.
Email is a safe, low stress, convenient way to follow up after a meeting. There is no face-to-face interaction, nor a verbal interaction. It’s easy to type an email. Some people would prefer to have you send them an email to follow up because of packed schedules or convenience. When writing emails, keep them short, to the point, and suggest a time to talk again int he future. Brevity is key. You don’t want to overwhelm your reader with long emails.
2. Snail Mail
This is a very underrated form of communication. It is still used in many interactions between people. Sending a handwritten “Thank You” note is a good way to keep that first impression lingering. There’s always a personal touch when taking the time to write a thank you note, put a stamp on the envelope, and drop it in the mailbox. If you happen to take a photo with the person you met include the photo with your thank you note.
1. Phone call/Skype
If you happen to exchange phone numbers with the person you just met, wait a few days and give them a call and tell them you appreciate meeting with them. Briefly summarize that you talked about and thank them for their time. This is a great time to ask when you both can meet again if needed. This is the best way to follow up with someone. It engages conversation in real time and allows you to show your personality even if it’s through the wire.
Depending on the person and the nature of the first initial contact, make sure to choose the appropriate follow up style that will help that first impression last longer. The receiver will remember you, your purpose in meeting them, and will be more inclined to communicate with you. Keep an open and organic communication to build relationships that will be beneficial to you.
What are ways you follow up with those you met for the first time? If you have any networking tips or comments on this Mingle Monday post, please leave them in the comments section below.
~Jay Banez, Marquette ’16, electronic editor