With the recent advent of social marketing, making connections digitally has never been easier. It truly is an incredible time online. However, nothing replaces connecting in-person, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. Human beings require interaction that only happens face to face. Hearing someone’s voice, seeing facial expressions, and shaking hands cannot be easily digitized. Since these in person connections can be so strong, it is so important to follow up. In this article you’ll discover 3 follow up strategies that include: when followup starts, a ranking system, and 3 things you must know for each meaningful followup with each new contact.
Let’s set some ground rules with the following assumptions:
- You collected contact info.
- You place greater value on relationship than any possible business transaction.
- Those you met represent your target market.
1 – Start at the Event
Meaningful followup requires planning. You can save yourself some headaches if you identify some things at the event itself.
Ask Good Questions: Questions help you understand whether the person you just met is a fit for your services, or you are for theirs. Learn: Why are they there? Do they work from home, or in a large company? Do they have experience struggling with the very thing you are a pro at? What are the top priorities for their business right now. What are they passionate about? What do they feel they are good at? Who is their ideal prospect? Mix personal questions if appropriate, do they have a family, where did they grow up.
The goal is to understand if you have a connection. A friend of mine, Roger, recently said there are 3 stages to consider when networking: contact, connection, and courtship. Making a new contact is good. Questions help you understand if there is a connection for any potential courtship (i.e. evaluating or doing business).
2 – Give Yourself a Deadline
Followup is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be if you are prepared. Most people who don’t followup within 24 hours of an event likely won’t, that’s because they start when back in the office, dealing with issues that surfaced while they were away.
I like a 24 hour deadline, it forces one to take action. The key is, starting the process at the event itself, in the hotel, or whenever you can carve out 15 minutes before getting back to home base. My practice is, go back to the hotel, sort through the cards and contact information received, rank them as As, Bs, and Cs. As get top priority, then Bs, then Cs.
As much as I’d like, I don’t follow up with everyone; that’s why I use the A-B-C priority system. A – Must followup, there was a connection and possibity of doing business in the near future. B – Great people to remain in contact with. While there may not be a reason to consider doing business anytime soon, there was a connection, and there could be reasons for business in the future.
Followup is often about timing, and you never know what could change in someone’s life or business. C – Should follow up. This is a contact where there may have been mutual interest in each other’s business, but there wasn’t that connection that you had with B’s. Like B’s you never know what could change, and you never know who they know.
This ranking system takes the pressure off me when it comes to the task of “followup after an event” (imagine facial contortions of overwhelm).
3 – Put New Contacts in a System
This can sound daunting, but as you see the benefits of good follow up, you’ll also see the blessing of having a scalable and flexible system. If you don’t have a system, no worries, start small.
Email: Most email systems have an address book, add your contacts there and send a personal email to the A contacts. Add value when possible (Did they express interest in some info you mentioned during the conversation?), and be a resource. To continue the discussion, ask them a question that will prompt them to reply.
Database: If you have a database, enter your contacts there, and use the database to process some of the follow up with them. CAUTION: avoid sounding robotic at all costs. Doing so can be a major turnoff, especially considering the personal interaction you had (see Ask Good Questions section above).
Whatever system you use be sure to enter these pieces of information for any new contact: name, email, where you met them (the event name and date), and a personal piece of information about them (trains dogs, vacationed in Maui recently, 12 kids… you get the idea).
The personal piece is left out by many who have a database, but it’s key for two reasons. First, it jogs your memory when you glance at it in 2 years. Second, when you speak with them on the phone the personal piece can be a great conversation starter. “Hey Bob, Travis here. Last we spoke you were working on a Book about public speaking, how’s that going?”
2 BONUS Follow Up Tips
Phone: For your top A people, call them. This may be appropriate depending on the circumstances of your connection at the event.
Photo Card: If you take a picture with a contact, use a service like Send Out Cards, and send them a copy of the photo as a cover to a nice to meet your or thank you card.
As you practice followup marketing from events that your target market attends, you will naturally get better at it, and be motivated by the benefits of increased sales. There is nothing like being prepared for follow up. Start at the event by asking new contacts good questions, give yourself a followup deadline, and review the cards at the event ranking contacts for priority followup. Start with simple email, and build a system so followup get’s easier after each new event.
When you maintain a ‘people first approach’ during and after events, you will find sales naturally increase.How do you followup? What followup mistakes have you made or been a victim of? Chime in below.
Image Credits: The Vigilante Photographer Josh Sommers Express Monorail Mike O’C