Our industry offers up some great conferences, particularly in the fall of the year – CASRO, QRCA, ESOMAR, MRA, TMRE and so on. They are all great places to learn and (wait for it…) network.
That’s right… these conferences provide you with the chance to meet with prospective clients in a non-threatening environment. Whether it’s during a conference session, at a cocktail reception or on the exhibit floor, conferences give you the opportunity to shake hands, swap business cards, do a little personal “selling” and lay the groundwork for future business conversations.
But then you head home from the conference… return to your back-to-normal business routine… and before you know it, that pocketful of business cards representing a number of warm leads now has a thin layer of frost on it.
Don’t let that happen to you. Plan now for your ‘lead nurturing’ activities with those you will have met at the conference(s). Consider a plan like this:
- Immediately after you meet with someone, write down (back of the card will do; in a notebook is better) some notes about each contact – what kind of firm, areas of specialty, what products/services interested them, hot-warm-cold status, any ‘highlights’ from your conversation that you can reference later, etc.
- As soon as you get back, send a ‘thank you’ note to each contact. But be specific… you want them to remember you. E.g. “John, I really enjoyed chatting with you after the keynote address at the CASRO conference last week…”
- A week or two later, send a second follow-up email, this time referencing something from your conversation… and maybe send along an article or white paper that’s relevant.
- If you get any response from the either of the notes, schedule a brief call to “reintroduce” yourself and “follow-up on the conversation we had about…”
- Have that call and see where things go… if it’s promising, then put them in the sales pipeline; if not, put them in the marketing pipeline.
- Regardless, put everyone you met into your in-house database so they receive your monthly e-newsletter.
Even if your follow-up activities don’t look anything like the ones above… make sure you take the time to plan out a series of actions to capitalize on the relationship that was sparked at the conference. Wait more than a week or two and the flame will die out.
Good luck and good marketing.