This blog post came in later than usual as I was recently engaged in an awesome annual tech conference during the two weekdays of the past week and another event over the weekends.
I will have to confess though that I do not entirely favor attending networking events or conferences (as I tend to have my introverted days too) but I am one who strongly believes in building new connections and real relationships. It was a blessing in disguise too as it did not only bring me an impressive number of new-found quality connections but the experience did also inspires me to write out this blog post for you.
Have you headed or are heading to a networking event? Keep these tips in mind…
We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships with 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 networking event or a conference, sorting it all out in an organized, timely process is the key to beginning the conversion from just a connection to a real relationship.
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 three important things to consider after going to any in-person event but especially bigger conferences.
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. If you have an idea about how you might work with someone you met, write it down. If you talked about something you want to remember, write it down. If you have an idea for how this person might be useful to you, write it down. Memory fades faster than you think, especially if you are meeting lots of different people.
2. 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.
Sort the cards out to "Now" and "Later". In the Now pile you should put cards of people to whom you will reach out within a few days of the conference, those who are most important contacts you’ve made. All other cards go in the Later pile. This should help to keep you from becoming completely overwhelmed with all the follow-ups you have to do.
3. 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. Personalize. People like to feel that you remembered them so include one sentence in your email that draws upon a conversation you had at the conference or is in some way specific to this particular person. Being thoughtful about this to them will make a big difference.
Note! Don’t kiss up (too much) in your emails. If you met a great contact – a famous blogger, author, CEO – avoid blatant kissing up. It will come off fake. Keep it real and if you want to pay someone a compliment about something they said or did, do it without overdoing it.
4. 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 and then if appropriate Facebook. Comment on their blog, or invite them to yours.
When you send follow-up emails, keep them short and include an action step or a question that leads to continued communication. Keep the conversation going to develop a relationship with a contact that you made.
5. CREATE A 30-DAY FOLLOW-UP PLAN
Make a 30-day plan for each person or group of contacts that you would like to develop a relationship with. Be consistent, and interact as regularly as possible. Show up and be a part of the conversation. Use a relationship management (CRM) system if you need tools to help you achieve that.
Relationships don’t happen in a week!
Work through these five steps immediately. The timeliness of follow-up is critical. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each other’s minds. Should you be afraid that you may not have time for an essential follow up, you may consider hiring a Virtual Assistant or VA for short. Here's a guide that i've curated that you may find useful: How To Work With A Virtual Assistant.
So, how do you follow up after a networking event and conference?
Need more indepth tips? Here's How To Master The Art Of Networking Follow-Up by Forbes.
OR should you need to read more, here's a list on networking tips from The Huffington Post.
Hi! I'm Liyana. In this blog, I'll share stories, tips and tools to help you move beyond burnout and thrive at the intersection of mind, body and business.
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