The most important part of attending and networking at a conferences, conventions or tradeshows happens after the event. The follow up. This is where you start to strength the relationship.
Follow up is crucial to the process of turning some of your new contacts into prospects and some of those prospects into a sale, new investor, a new hire or new job.
As a business owner, what you really want is more contacts and leads.
Networking is the key to building the new relationships needed to develop the new leads to grow your business.
Develop a good business network and the network will offer many opportunities.
- Business partnerships, or
- Client request for your services
will be the result of a good network. Networking and attending conferences and tradeshows helps in creating and maintaining visibility in the market.
So we know why we network, but what do you do to follow up after a networking event, conference or tradeshow?
After all, it’s what you do after the event that matters and the real work begins!
Master the Art of Networking Follow up
So what happens when the handshakes are over, you got to know your new contacts pain points, goodbyes have been said, and all you have left is a stack of business cards?
Business cards have no value if you don’t use them.
A networking event is just the jumping-off point for starting a new professional relationship, and hopefully getting quality sales long term, — your follow up is the key to developing it. And since the clock starts ticking as soon as you meet, it’s best to start right away.
Let’s get to it.
“Either you follow-up or you fold-up” ~ Bernard Kelvin Clive
What to do Before you Follow Up
Sort your business cards by priority: First, those whom you want to contact immediately. Ideally, within 48 hours after the event has ended.
The next list should be those you shall contact within a week.
The rest you will contact within 3 weeks.
Fifty percent of people who ask for my card never do anything with it. So if you want to push the relationship forward, you have to take the action.
- Review your notes on why you want to connect with this person and what is their reason to be in business in the first place.
- Take a minute to see what their business is about and check out their business blog.
- Review their company website and company LinkedIn profile.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn. Maybe you already prepared for the conference or tradeshow and have this information.
- Google their name – You’d be amazed at what you can find by Goggling a person.
- You can review their online presence and find additional information to help you with reasons to connect—or not to do so.
Prepare the Follow Up E-Mail.
Focus on them, not you.
Great business relationships don’t start with sales pitches.
- Most people connect with you because they believe a relationship with you will benefit them, not the other way around.
- Simply say that you enjoyed meeting them and try to reflect back on a point from the conversation.
- Remind them who you are in the follow-up and what you talked about.
This always needs to be more about them.
Always ask yourself, “What can I give to this person?” never, “What can I get?”
By making your follow up about them, you’re also setting yourself up to offer help, if you can, which is going to help you build a relationship for the long-term.
- Give compliments.
- Give shares.
- Give connections.
Include a link or attach an article/blog of interest to the other person.
Suggest a way to keep the conversation going.
- Getting a face to face meeting.
- Suggest someone they should meet.
- Requesting to send information.
- Extend an invite for coffee or lunch.
This should always be your first choice for your highest priority contacts. Everyone loves to get mail. Handwritten notes are ideal and certainly portray your desire to invest the time in fostering a relationship.
I usually prepare a 2-3 page trip report. Noting the people I met and the interesting new products and services. Share this with your team along with any conference material, brochures and other media.
A Few Parting Tips.
Not everyone will respond to your follow up attempts.
Just because someone doesn’t call back or respond to your email does not mean they are not interested.
Reaching out one time after meeting them is not enough. It generally takes a few touches before someone decides that they are ready to engage you. Try no more than 3 times and utilize at least two different methods.
We all admire persistence and determination, but there comes a point at which these become an annoyance for the recipient.
Please do not stalk.
Now you master the art of networking follow up.
Follow up is a crucial technique in developing a great network.
Networking takes time and energy. A small, consistent investment of time each week can pay off huge dividends and get you more clients in the future. Follow up and see the good that happens.
- Become known for what you give away (information, introductions, expertise, support, resources, etc.).
- Focus on helping others solve their problems and they’ll want you around.
Here’s to you building a stronger network. Good luck!
Please share “How to Follow Up After Conferences and Conventions” with your fellow attendees so they too can prepare a successful follow up plan.
Oh, if there’s anything I’m missing in this article, tell me! I’ll be happy to add it in.
We welcome your thoughts and suggestions on this article in the comments section.
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