The last conference session ends, your bags are packed full of swag and your head is packed full of new ideas. You did your very best to reach out to as many people as possible and create touch points that have further potential. But now what? How do you ensure that your leads stay warm? To ensure that networking doesn’t end when you leave the conference, keep these three great networking tips in mind to make sure that a conference isn’t just an excuse to socialize, but rather an opportunity to expand your network of professional contacts.
1. Organize Your Intel.
Chances are that you received a towering pile of business cards during your conference. Organize these cards by prospect type and priority for following up. This process will help you index them later.
Better yet, use an app to scan business cards and at the same time discover each person’s contact information for social media. Nothing sends a professional “howdy” these days like a LinkedIn networking request and a Twitter follow.
2. Always Follow Up.
In our earlier post full of conference networking tips, we mentioned that creating a spreadsheet full of top prospects is helpful for preparation. That spreadsheet also comes in handy to actually note who you ran into.
Always follow up on these run-ins with a “Great to meet you!” email, preferably a day or so after the conference ended to give the person a momentary breather. Be sure to include some sort of personal, relevant mention of your conversation or a mutual experience rather than simply copy/pasting each note from a template.
More personal gestures like hand-written snail mail notes or even gifts can be appropriate depending on the interaction. A great example is how business mentor Brad Johnson received compliments on his audacious socks during a conference from fellow attendees, so he followed up by mailing a pair to each person. Spoiler alert: they loved it.
3. Get Social.
Once you have established connections to top prospects or potential business allies, you do not want that thread to go cold. Reaching out to someone almost a year after a conference can be pretty awkward, especially if you are trying to ask them for a favor.
Instead, use social media or email to occasionally refresh that contact point. Send them an article they could use, or mention when you could be in their neck of the woods sometime soon. If you have access to a business blog, you could even mention your interaction and possibly link to some of their content.
Post conference networking tips like these help you leverage the work you already put in when you met the prospect and further entrench the good impression you laid.