If you’re like me, you network with other professionals, in the hopes of finding new clients. But what are you supposed to do after you meet people at networking events and exchange cards?
It’s important to get organized after the networking event. I know, I know, I’ve had business cards scattered all over my desk and not done anything with them for a week after an event. But it’ll help you in the long run.
Step 1. Organize your contacts. Sort your new business cards into different piles:
- Potential client
- Same industry
- Good to know
Anyone who you even touched on business with (as in you providing them with it) goes in the potential client pile. If they work in your industry, put them in the same industry pile. And for everyone else, including those people you’re not quite sure how they might be able to help you, keep in mind that they can refer business to you even if they don’t need it. Put them in the third pile.
Step 2. Send a handwritten note. For each person you meet at a networking event, send a handwritten card or note saying it was nice to meet them. Include something that lets them know you’re paying attention, like a reference back to your conversation or a comment about their website. Send the very next day after you meet them.
Note: While handwritten notes stand out more than email, I do make an exception sometimes, especially if the contact is web savvy (and they contact me first via email or social media). Depending on how casual the relationship is, you can also send a note on Twitter or Facebook once you find and connect with them there.
Step 3. Connect online. As I just mentioned, Twitter and Facebook are a great way to keep up with your new contacts, and if you’re active in the social media space, it’s a great way for your new contacts to see what you’re up to. Send a note with your friend request reminding them where you met.
Step 4. Add contacts to your database. However you manage your contacts, be it in Outlook or your email program (PLEASE don’t tell me it’s a Rolodex), add your contacts with notes. If you send out an email newsletter, add them to the list.
Step 5. Checking in. Decide on a schedule to check in with contacts. Maybe it’s once a month for warm leads, every other month for everyone else. Just drop a line in whatever method of communication they like best (more and more, this ends up being social media) and just see how they’re doing. Often this can remind them of what products or services you provide and be a good source of sales.
You might need to move contacts from one category to another as you develop your relationships with them. The more you reach out, the more sales you’ll get!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your stack of business cards collected at networking events, but if you systematically organize your followup, something might actually come from you attending the event!