Posted By Amanda Collins on March 30, 2010
You plan your week – or month – in advance to maximize your networking, planning three to five events per week, alternating among breakfast, lunch, and happy-hour meetings. (If you’re in Phoenix, I hope you’re looking on NetworkingPhoenix.com!) In short, you’ve done everything you’ve been taught to do to meet new people and generate leads.
Now, if you’re one of the 5% of networkers, once you’ve made the connections, you’ll follow up with your new business acquaintances with a nice e-mail, phone call, or mailed card. If so, that’s excellent! But, wait, it doesn’t end there. The whole idea of going out and prospecting is to build a database of contacts, hopefully establishing and maintaining relationships. To that end, you need to continue the conversation with these new folks.
In my experience, most small business owners are gung ho to attend networking events, eagerly exchanging cards and shaking hands. A few will follow up within a few days to acknowledge the meeting … but, for many it doesn’t even get that far. And, if it does, we never communicate again.
So here’s your training, fellow networkers. Of course, set up a follow-up system to get in touch with your new colleagues within a few days. Then, add them to your drip-marketing campaign. Maybe you use a CRM system like ACT, or maybe you’re old school and use Excel, but you need to be in touch with these people to remain top of mind. I like Constant Contact, which I use to send monthly e-mails segmented based on people’s interests. That way, they hear from me regularly in messages that share useful information and some personal anecdotes about my life with my son. Because of my drip marketing, potential clients see me as an expert and turn into clients.
Remember, people don’t go to networking events to buy, but if you give them a reason to trust you and build valued credibility, you’re much more likely to see that relationship build and transition into a revenue-generating future.