We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships with colleagues, peers and potential new customers. We pick the events we want to go to and we prepare. For bigger conferences, we spend even more time preparing for the sessions and events we want to attend, people we want to meet and build in time for random hook ups.
When you return from a conference you had been planning for, sorting it all out in an organized, timely process is the key to beginning the conversion from connection to relationship.
I talk a lot about the importance of blending in person networking with social media. Integrating your personal marketing and branding activities. I delivered this very content recently at XPO NYC, the largest B2B conference in the northeast.
There is the planning to go, being there and the follow up, probably the most important way to leverage your RON-return on networking.
There are 3 important things to consider after going to any in person event but especially bigger conferences.
- prioritize contacts
- customize follow up messages
Here are 8 steps for converting the information and connections into actionable relationships after a big conference.
1) Sort through your cards and the people you met.
Hopefully, every card you got was a person you owned a moment with, or had a meaningful exchange with. I like to write a word or two or note on the card to remind me of what we exchanged.
2) Review all the sessions you attended.
Take the program and review all the sessions you attended and what was presented. Add notes to the notes you actually took during the session while reviewing it.
3) Review all the notes you took.
Go through all your notes and highlight the key ideas from the speakers and that you wrote down.
4) Review the handouts and information you got.
Take the time to review all the handouts, leave behinds, worksheets, post cards you took home with you. Take advantage of any incentives offered to you by the speakers and conference presenters.
5) Prioritize and define who to follow up with and why.
Although we gather cards at these events, prioritizing the warm connections and ones that make the most sense to follow up on should be followed up on first. Qualify why, and be specific about what you will follow up with them about.
6) Draft a customized follow up letter to each group.
Divide your connections into groups and customize a follow up letter to them, that makes sense and is appropriate for why you should continue. Being thoughtful about this to them will make a big difference.
7) Invite them to follow up on social media.
This is the bridge that can help you get into people’s communities, stream, conversations and get you started in building commonality. Use LinkedIn as a starting point, add Twitter and then if appropriate Facebook. Comment on their blog, or invite them to yours.
8) Create a 30 day follow up plan.
For the contacts you make that you want to develop, make a 30 day plan for each person, or the group of contacts that you met. Be consistent, and interact as regularly as possible. Show up, be a part of and join. Relationships don’t happen in a week!
These 8 steps should be started and worked through immediately. The timeliness of follow up is critical. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each others minds.
How do you follow up after a networking event and conference?