September 12, 2014
You're finally home, with tired feet and a bag bursting with business cards and/or their digital equivalents. Congratulations... you just finished a conference!
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="400"] It's good to be home.[/caption]
While most of the hard work is over, the last thing you want to do is fail to take advantage of all that effort by letting your new contacts and connections go by the wayside. Here at Contactually, we attend our fair share of conferences (both as exhibitors and attendees), and there are a few things we always do to make sure we get the most from our travels.
In a lot of ways, we're "the follow-up company", so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that we take the task of re-connecting with network very seriously. And while it might seem obvious, reaching out is something that people are constantly putting off, only to eventually give up entirely. Don't let this happen to you -- follow-up early, often, and consistently. We happen to know a magical little something that might help with this.
Sure, it's administrative work you don't feel like doing. But getting your new connections into your contact database is how you get them integrated into your businesses process. If you use Contactually as your primary contact/lead management system, great -- they'll be added as soon as you email them. If you're using something like Hubspot or Salesforce (with or without Contactually), make sure you go through whatever your standard data entry procedure is ASAP. If you wait too long, not only do you risk losing important contact info ("where did I put those business cards from that event in July..."), but that's just more time you're not taking advantage of whatever marketing or nurturing infrastructure you have in place. Strike while the iron is hot!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Let the data entry... BEGIN![/caption]
Properly organized data is better data. It's easier to assess, easier to search, and much easier to act on effectively. And while almost everyone can appreciate the benefits of an intelligently segmented contact database, it's one of those things that gets harder the longer you wait. You just met all of these people, which means right now is when you're going to best remember the funny little nuances and personal qualities that help you segment accurately. If your new connections are intelligently sorted, it'll be easier for you to reach out with more personalized, more relevant communication over the long-haul -- which means better interactions, and eventually, better results.
You're definitely going to follow up -- that much you know. But when should you schedule those emails to go out if you don't want them to get sucked into the black hole of a typical email inbox? Fear not. We did a little research on the subject, and it's all in our free report. Go on, download it, or one of our other fine eBooks!
Seeing a pattern here? Time is of the essence! Building a healthy network of people, instead of just a pile of e-mail addresses, means you need to capture as many little nuances as possible, before you forget. Segmenting is the broad approach to this, and is obviously important, but it's not everything. For many of your new contacts, there are subtle interaction details that won't be captured by segmenting. Maybe you both went to school in the same state, or she's really interested in a particular service you offer. Maybe you had a deep conversation about pricing, or some operational policy, and don't want to awkwardly stumble through it again unnecessarily. Maybe you got their t-shirt size, and would love to send them a nice surprise. Whatever it is, get it down now -- these personal interactions are the roots of real relationships, and are one of the biggest benefits of conferences. Don't waste them!
While Contactually will keep you following up in a more regimented manner, social media connections are a great way to stay loosely connected to people you've met. You can learn things, strike up impromptu conversations, and stay top of mind with people, especially if you're active on your networks and sharing interesting, high quality thoughts and content.
This probably won't be your last conference. Before you know it, you'll be wrapped up with the details of the next big event, and a whole new set of interesting stories and personalities. That's great, but if you let your previous connections linger, you're really just going around in circles. So sit down, fire up the laptop, and relive some of your conference adventures, while simultaneously taking the first steps towards building some strong, long term business relationships.
Then... Netflix. Maybe that's just me.