[Video] It’s a Solopreneur’s Life- Ep 12- Shiny Object Syndrome

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Whew, that was a great networking event. You connected with some old faces and met a lot of new people. Sure it cost you a few bucks and a few hours of your time. At least it got you out of the office. But, was that all it was for?

Making an investment of time, energy and money to attend networking events doesn’t end when the event does. In fact, that’s when it is just beginning.

If you’ve been in business circles for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the old adage:

The Fortune is in the Follow Up!

And this is so true. What you do with all of those contacts after the event is the real key to maximizing your investments. However, you are truly busy just running your business and you really don’t want to come across as spammy. So how can you maximize your time and do so in a manner which gets results without feeling like a used car salesman?

How to Follow Up After a Networking Event

Refine Your Pile

Realistically, not everyone you meet is a good connection. Some contacts just aren’t good prospects and won’t be good sources of referrals either. Don’t focus any time on these individuals. In fact, go ahead and remove their business cards from your pile before you do anything else. Now you only have business contacts who are potential prospects or who could refer you to someone who might be.

Categorize By Value

Arrange the remaining cards into three piles.

  1. The first pile should contain important business contacts who are the best prospects or referral sources.
  2. The second pile should contain contacts who are still valuable but who’s value isn’t quite as high.
  3. The third and final pile should contain contacts who may be of value in the future but who aren’t a priority as of right now.

Read more about How to Organize Business Contacts here.

The Intro Email

The first email you send will be a quick email to ask more about the person you just met. Odds are you didn’t get a chance to talk in detail at the networking event. This email gives you the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. Here are 4 sample questions you may consider adding to your intro email:

  1. What do yo love most about being a ?
  2. Who is your favorite audience to work with?
  3. When you aren’t working, what do you love to do?
  4. What it is an immediate challenge you are trying to solve right now (personally or professionally)?

After these questions, invite them to join you on social media and list out your links so they can easily access these with a click.

PRO TIP: Use Canned Responses in Google Labs to create email templates like this. Alternatively, you can download a program like PhraseExpress and store common emails for easy retrieval.

Who to Email First?

Now that you have the email you will be sending, begin sending these based on the categories you have already set up.

  1. Pile A – Reach out to the business contacts in the first pile within 24 hours. Of course, if it is a weekend, that can be the next business day.
  2. Pile B – Reach out to your pile B contacts within one week.
  3. Pile C – These contacts can wait one to two weeks out but be sure to follow up with them eventually.

Unless your event was a multiple day event or you had a sponsor table, odds are you will have less than 20 contacts to follow up with. If you have more than this, you may not be spending enough time with each individual you meet. Only ask for business cards from individuals you truly want to connect with.

PRO TIP: NEVER EVER add someone to your email list or Facebook group without asking for their permission first. This is rude and considered spammy and may hurt your reputation.

After the First Email: Now What? 

Once you’ve reached out to your business contacts to show them your interest in building a relationship with them, follow up with them by sending them a text or by calling them. Be prepared with a couple of quick questions you can ask. This might be related to the event such as “Did you take action on XYZ?” or it may be just to learn more about them. Also be prepared with your calendar handy to invite them to a “virtual coffee” appointment.

When to follow up:

  • Pile A – Call or text within one week of sending the initial email.
  • Pile B – Call within two to three weeks.
  • Pile C – Call within the first month.

Staying in Touch: Send a Subtle Reminder Using Social Media or Email

 Some business contacts will be easier to connect with and others may be more difficult to reach. If you have still not received a response or interest at this point, send them an article of interest to them (not promoting what you do) through a social media account or by sending them another email. It can also be helpful to engage with them on social media by liking and commenting on their posts.

When to follow up:

  • Pile A – Within two weeks of reaching out by phone.
  • Pile B – Within one month of phone call.
  • Pile C – Within one month of phone call.

Don’t Give Up: Continue to Reach Out Until You Get a Response

You may or may not have managed to get a response from business contacts at this point. If you have, congratulations. If you haven’t, however, don’t get discouraged.

Remember when we talked about the fortune being in the follow up? This is what will make or break your success. Quit now and you’ve just wasted your time and money. Remember, people have their own list of priorities and odds are, you are NOT at the top. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. It just means the timing has to be right.

When to follow up:

  • Pile A – Continue to reach out to these contacts every two to three weeks. Mix it up with phone, email and social media. It’s about making a connection and building a relationship.
  • Pile B – Monthly
  • Pile C – Quarterly

After trying to connect with a contact for 6 months or more and having no success or return response, you can assume they aren’t interested. This isn’t about beating a dead horse but giving enough time to have magic happen.

If you’ve failed to reach certain contacts after months of sending them emails and phone calls, you can probably throw those contacts into the trash. However, take into consideration how valuable each contact is before giving up. If they are a contact that could really assist you in furthering your career, hold onto them. If they are a contact that you can honestly live without, give up on them.

Pro Tip: If you run into someone on your list at a networking event, reignite the conversation. This connection counts towards your follow up. It’s all about being top of mind for when they are ready.

Final Thoughts

Out of site, out of mind. When you can build and nurture a healthy relationship with a contact, they are more likely to think of you first when they or someone they know needs what you offer. We hope this article helps you to create your own follow up plan. If you would like help implementing all or part of your follow up, please contact us here.

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