Conferences provide excellent opportunities for you to expand your professional network – but only if your follow-up game is strong. It can be exhausting to contact new business from the numerous stacks of business card you have acquired but putting in the work can be very rewarding in the short and long term if you deal your cards correctly, forgive the pun.
As the excitement wears off after an eventful conference, it can be tempting to discard the contacts you racked up alongside all the potential they contain for connections and collaborations. To make this task easier, organize the cards in terms of priority from high to low. This will help to divide the task into more manageable tasks.
While you are still recovering from the buzz of the conference, create a list of every business contact and highlight them, individually, according to their priority. This list will help you recall every person and make it easier to follow up starting from the highest rated individuals. You can also keep a digital record and make short notes for a quick profile of each contact. This represents another way to be productive on the flight home.
To boost your chances of closing a follow-up, send emails at select times. Do not contact your leads with an email immediately the conference ends because their inbox will be swamped with generic automated conference-related messages. Take your time and allow the dust to settle for about three days before you contact them. By the time you reach out, they will most likely be back to their routine. However, do not let this stop you from drafting emails ahead of time.
Another essential tip is to avoid boilerplate messages. Generic messages are quick to craft but impersonal and forgettable. Your best bet is to craft a short, personal message that emphasizes the teachings at the conference. If you highlighted a specific article or project, be sure to attach a link that can help the contact remember you. Be sure to end the email with an invitation or question that will continue the conversation; doing so helps to cultivate a relationship.
Online interaction via social media is one of the best ways to get in contact. Check each contact’s business card for links to their Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, however, use discretion when connecting with them. It is acceptable to become their follower on their business profiles rather than their personal pages.
Social media is an excellent way to stay in touch with low-priority contacts. You should follow up on cases of high investment-high reward that can lead to important networking and partnerships for future career development.
With that being said, a majority of the work is done during and after the conference by making a good impression and following up with a quality email that shows how serious you are about working with them.