You attended a conference and now what do you do? Follow up is the biggest key to success when attending conferences or networking events. All those business cards you collected can’t be turned into leads without proper follow up.
When you get home from a conference or networking event, pull out all the business cards you collected, prioritize them and determine when to follow up. There are a number of ways to do this – hottest to coldest leads, who you had the best connection with to the least, or by timeframe they requested for you to follow up. If you didn’t do it during the event, make notes on each card that will remind you of who they are and what you discussed when you met. Do this with all the cards regardless of your interest in them or their business – two years from now when you’re cleaning up your rolodex, you’ll remember who they are.
It’s important to honour timelines. If someone told you that they were going out-of-town for three weeks, or that they didn’t want you to follow up with them for six weeks, then you want to honour that time and refrain from getting in touch until a time that would be appropriate for them. However, if you did not discuss a timeframe, a good rule of thumb is to follow up within a week of meeting.
When you’re ready, open the email or conversation with something personal you discussed that will remind them of who you are. Not only will they be more likely to remember you and the conversation, but they will also be reminded of the rapport you gained when you met. The majority of people will never follow up, so just sending the email or picking up the phone will give you an edge.
What to do if the follow up doesn’t lead to a meeting or contract? First, remember that doesn’t mean “no.” It just means, “Not right now.” Make sure you keep in touch. Follow the company and your contact on Twitter and LinkedIn. When something important happens within the company, tweet about it or comment on the LinkedIn post. And then follow up again… And again.