One of my clients recently asked me about the appropriate way to follow up with someone you’ve just met at a networking event. Now that social networking is so prevalent, I think it’s fine to add someone on LinkedIn or Twitter the next day. You might send an email intro, or tweet something like, “So nice meeting @personx at last night’s media mixer.” The person can then opt to follow you. Just make sure that your profile page is professional-looking, and hold off on sending a friend request on Facebook. If their business has a Facebook profile, you can “like” that, but it may be too soon for them to open up their private life to you.
Say the person you’ve connected with works at a company you admire and could potentially put you forward for a job. If you’ve only exchanged some small talk, however, I’d be wary of jumping the gun and firing away your resume right away. Instead, wait a day or two and then send them a friendly email saying that you enjoyed meeting them at X event and that you’d love to grab coffee to share ideas one day. This puts the ball in their court. If they’re open to it, they’ll suggest a date. If they’re not, they’ll likely offer some vague response that things are really busy but they’ll be in touch. You can follow up later, but don’t be too pushy. If you do meet up for coffee, that’s a good time to bring up your career goals and see if they are receptive.