Make the most of your next networking event

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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Networking events are all about making connections with the right people, but all that effort invested is wasted if you don’t execute on the follow-up. Here’s how to take advantage of the leads you gather at your next networking event—so you can turn those contacts into sales.

At the event

Your follow-up work starts at the event—the more information you record, the better you set yourself up to follow up on those leads after the fact.

  1. Make sure you are memorable, and not just because you were pushing your sales story. Take time to chat with people on a more personal level as well.
  2. Focus on the person you’re talking to, not your brokerage. Ask about their pain points and needs, and what is concerning them in the market today.
  3. When you meet someone and the discussion suggests a possible sales opportunity, ask for a business card, and also ask if you can contact them at an agreed upon date. Write that date on the back of the card.
  4. After the person walks away, jot down a few notes about your interaction—who he or she is, the company and industry, what you talked about, where you met, etc. You want to make sure you remember this person and give yourself enough context so you can make them remember you as well.

After the event

This is the crucial part—failing to follow up after a networking event makes that event less effective as a marketing tool for your business.

  1. For those contacts you set appointments with, record those meetings in your calendar right away so you don’t forget. Make sure you have your notes organized for each one.
  2. For anyone else you met but didn’t set an appointment with, email them within 24 hours. Even if you don’t see an immediate connection, say thanks for talking—it may lead to a referral.
  3. If applicable, introduce two people to one another. You may find that two people you met are interested in each other’s business offerings. Or someone you met at the event would benefit from the service of one of your clients, perhaps. Make that introduction—and they’ll remember that you made that connection for them.
  4. Before making any phone calls, do some additional research on each prospect. Find out how your services match up to their unique business or industry, to help you personalize the conversation when you get on the phone.
  5. In addition to your research, use your notes to drive the conversation. Did you discuss the local sports team or a community event? Bring that up to remind them of who you are, and continue that rapport you started to establish.
  6. Don’t give up. For prospects who aren’t interested right now, set them up on a drip marketing campaign to keep the leads warm. Chances are, if you’re sending them regular, valuable resources, they’ll be willing to hear your pitch again in six months.

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