So you just attended a large conference where you met a ton of people that can help you grow your business or connect you to future opportunities. Awesome, but wait.. wait.. wait.. Do not cold call them yet unless you are in the business of selling time shares and you just must close while they are still brainwashed. Here are a few tips on what to do when you make it back from a conference and what you should have done already:
- Organize all of your business cards into little piles according to what the business does. How do you know? Well, the day you got the business card you should have gone back to your room and scribbled down just who and what the person that gave you the card did and what the opportunity in it was. Were they a client? A vendor? A partner? Someone that just helped you out with your speach? Someone that recommended you to their peer? This is why business cards have a blank back, so you can write on them. This is also why the back is usually not glossy, so you can write on it. Point is, you should already have these categorized now you just need to put them in an order.
- Now that they are in the order stick them in your CRM. Or contact list, or spreadsheet. If you're still in the stone age and must put them in the rolodex hold on just one second because you still need to look at them before you file away. This is generally done while waiting for the plane in the airport or while in the flight to begin with.
So you're organized, now what?
- First and foremost get a stack of thank you cards and start writing them to the people that helped you. If you were a speaker write a note thanking the person that organized it. If you were a part of the roundtable or a focus group that got you closer to the important people, write the thank you note to them, to the person that got you in, etc.
- Thank anybody and everybody that gave you a prize. I know, I know, why should you give a shit about some marketing person and their $0.005 swag they got Made in China? Well, marketing people are the ones that deal with the customers – and thats you. Show a little appreciation as you may one day be the first one to get to try out a product or find out about an important incentive.
- Research the businesses you connected with, find out what they do and where. This allows you to have a better way of knowing what your opportunities are and where. Business cards rarely list everything that the business does, perhaps you're competitors in some way? Perhaps there is an opportunity that you were not aware of? Either way, research before reachout.
- Finally, order a new stack of business cards. You likely gave out a lot at the conference to begin with and you need to restock. Remember to always bring twice as many cards and promo stuff as you think you may need. Think about it, how often does someone want to give you their info but they just ran out of cards?
Now that you do know what to do, here are things you should avoid doing:
- Do not call them the day after the conference. As a matter of fact, avoid even calling them the first week. They just missed several days of work and even if they are interested in talking with you they may not. This is why you deal with the unobtrusive forms first – cards. If they are available, they will call you.
- Do not spam them or dare add them to your mailing lists. Here are what some people that will neeever ever earn my business do: "Hi Vlad Mazek, We recently talked/emailed/chatted and I was wondering if I could add you to my newsletter to keep in touch." Sniff, thanks for making me feel very special with your canned CRM email. No, really, I am honored that you added me to the list with probably 200 other people. Who the f*** are you again? Thats right, someone that just went on my blacklist, goodbye.
- Do not call them unless you intend to be there when they return the call. So if your job requires you to be in meetings all day don't just get it out of the way before 9AM and hope to play voicemail tag. Nobody wants to talk to you that bad.
- Do not hand the cards off to someone else to follow up. Do not call just to kick s*** around unless you had a very romantic and intimate encounter the other person still looks at you as a business contact. Do not avoid the phone call of someone you do not want to do business with, it is far better to be honest and up front about your concerns and work through them than to upset the other person that is trying to get in touch with you.
There you go, a 5 minute MBA on post-conference followups from a guy that doesn't have one. Hope it helps you win some business.