There are networking opportunities everywhere and whether it’s at a trade show, conference, meetup, or even chatting with someone on your commute you need to make the most of every opportunity because you never know who you might meet!  Here are eight actionable dos and don’ts for following up with someone in a professional way after you’ve connected:

DO: Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn in a timely manor by including a personal note on where you met him or her and something you may have discussed.  For example, “It was great meeting you at the ABC Event. I’d like to keep in touch about the possible partnership we were chatting about.”

DON’T: Send a LinkedIn invite to every business card you collect. You should have a one-on-one meaningful conversation with someone before sending them an invitation to connect.

8 Dos & Don'ts of Networking Follow up DO: Follow up via email to business cards you collected and personalize the messages. Ensure you let people know ahead of time you’ll be sending an email and have their permission, otherwise your email may be viewed in a negative light.

DON’T: Buy a list of event attendees and email them all. This would be a violation of the CAN-SPAM act. Also, it’s not the best way to start a professional relationship.

DO: Try to follow up in a timely fashion, usually within a few days to a week of the event. It will help keep you top of mind of your potential clients or business partners.

DON’T: Wait too long to follow up with a contact. Time flies after events and it’s easy to forget all of the people that you might have met.

DO: When you reach out to someone go the extra mile about how your businesses or connection can be mutually beneficial. Take the time to research and understand what his or her company does, if you don’t know already.

DON’T: Go on and on about your company without understanding if it’s a good fit for the company that you’re reaching out to.

DO: Set a limit to the amount of communication. Do some testing to see the optimal amount of touches that it takes to connect with someone. Refine your cadence and amount of outreach accordingly.

DON’T: Call or email again and again if there is no response. No one likes to be harassed or stalked.

DO: Extend an offer for a free demo or ways to learn about your product or service.

DON’T: Forget to include a link to your website.

DO: Include your LinkedIn profile link (personal or business) within your email signature to make it easy for people to connect with you.

DON’T: Have an unprofessional picture in your email signature or as your LinkedIn profile picture.

DO: “Like” a business you’re interested in on Facebook and follow on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you do, the business or owner may follow you back.

DON’T: Try to friend someone’s personal page on Facebook or connect in other more personal ways. Sometimes it can be perceived as creepy.

These eight networking follow up dos and don’ts should keep you on the right path to growing your network and making successful new connections like a pro.

What are your dos and don’ts of networking? Share in the comments.