Step One – Collect cards like Pokemon
Some conference attendees are whipping out business cards and collecting them all like crazy. I’ve been in a group of people having a great conversation and then someone comes up and hands you their card out of nowhere. Will you remember that person at all? Will you follow up with that person? Most likely not. So, the key to follow up is to actually meet people and talk to them, make a connection and then exchange cards. You do not have to collect them all. More meaningful connections make for much better follow up.
Step Two – Glance at the card and shove it in your pocket.
Taking a business card and shoving it in your pocket after a cursory glance will be a way in which to immediately forget the person who gave it to you. When someone hands you their business card take a good look at it. Is there something interesting that you can talk to the person about? There should be something on that card that you can ask a question about. People love to talk about themselves so give them a chance to do it. So don’t just take the card and put it away, try and make that mental connection, if you don’t then it is unlikely that you will actually follow up.
Step Three – Try and remember everything in your head.
When you are at a conference you are going to meet so many people and trying to keep everyone straight in your head is an incredibly futile task. After you meet someone and take their business card you should make some notes for yourself. Make a few notes directly on their card. This will give you reminders as to who the person is when it comes time to follow up.
Step Four – Go home, put the cards in a box and hide it away. You’ll get to them in a few weeks. Really, you will.
If you stick everything into a box and leave it there waiting for a the right moment to hit you to follow up then you will never do it. The box above has three years of cards that I was going to follow up on in a couple weeks. As you can see that never happened.
So How Do You effectively Follow Up?
When you get home take a stack of 5 -10 cards, open up your e-mail program and enter all the card info into a new contact. Also write in the notes that you made about the conversation that you had with the person. Then write them a follow up email reminding them about the conversation that you had and how much you enjoyed it. Repeat until your giant stack of business cards are gone. Do this within 2 weeks of the conference just not the first day you are back unless you can schedule the e-mail to go out a day or two after the conference. Many people are dealing with their own thing and playing catch up the moment that they return from a conference so don’t get lost in the shuffle.
When you add the new person as a contact put them in a group for that conference so you can pull up everyone that you met at a specific conference. Make sure that you add in notes that you want to remember about that person, likes, dislikes and the like.
Hopefully your conference experience will be a fruitful place to make meaningful connections with great new people.