Congratulations! You’ve prepped, you’ve attended, and now it’s time to conquer with a smart post-conference outreach plan. Just a few more steps to go before you can kick back, relax, and give yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done.
You’ve just emerged from a networking cyclone and you deserve a break, so whatever you do to relax and recharge, go do that and I’ll wait right here until you get back …
All done? Great! Now it’s time to get organized. Sort your cards into two piles, one for “now” and one for “later”, but hold back on reaching out to the “nows” right away because their recharge activity might take longer than yours – give them 48 hours to get back to normal and in the meantime ….
Create and save a document outlining the pros and cons of the conference, whether or not you’d recommend attending next year, and any tips or suggestions should you decide to return. Having a record of your feedback while it’s still fresh in your mind will help you make future decisions about which conferences to attend.
This is where using LinkedIn for your initial outreach can come in handy. Your profile picture will accompany the invitation helping to jog your new contact’s memory. Digital business cards are also an easy way to share your contact information, while helping to put a face to a name as many templates allow you to include a photo as well.
A phone call is the most personal way to connect with someone, but email is less invasive. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use the phone to follow up, but my advice here is to think of how you would feel if this person called you. If a call from them would be a big surprise, maybe ease into the communication with an email – not everyone likes surprises.
Sending a, “Hi! It was nice to meet you … umm … Okay, bye!” email isn’t exactly going to get the ball rolling on a flourishing professional relationship. Here are my tips for the perfect follow-up email:
After the initial post-conference buzz, communications between you and your new contacts will dwindle and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean you weren’t successful! The key is to touch base every now and then with a link to an article they might find interesting or to solicit their advice/opinion on a matter you know they can relate to. If nothing else, you can always follow up in a year’s time to see if they’re heading back to the same conference.
What are your post-conference networking tips?
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About the author: Megan McMillan is one of iWave’s Marketing Managers.
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