The question you should ask is WHY NOT? Sending an email is by far the easiest, fastest, and most cost effective first follow up step you can do. Emailing your new contact within 24 hours makes you stand out from anyone else they may have met at the event. The email also shows you are committed to exploring the business relationship further. You want the email ready in advance to insure it’s sent right away. I would suggest having multiple versions ready to go depending on the types of networking you are doing. You might have one for a Chamber of Commerce Mixer, another for various seminars you may attend, and possibly a version for professionals who visit your weekly networking group such as BNI or LeTip.
The following is a few elements you may want to include in your email:
-Mention the event name in the subject, “Great Meeting You at the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce Mixer”.
-Talk about the event and how great it was meeting them in your opening line, “I really enjoyed meeting you this morning at 5 Minute Networking!
-Mention your desire to learn more about the person and their company. Your goal is to meet with the person to explore how you might help each other. Let them know you will be calling them to setup a meeting shortly.
-In closing ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn or Facebook. I personally welcome new invites as this expands my networking and referral potential.
Remember your email signature! Scott Hanselman has a great post talking about email signature etiquette in his blog. I appreciate a signature that includes the name, phone number, website, and picture. Including your picture is a valuable step in the relationship building process.