Attending a conference or trade show can be a productive experience, albeit a physically and mentally draining one. Your days are filled with meetings, networking events, industry parties and hundreds of new faces. After returning home from most conferences, the common urge is to go into “victory formation” and relax while you celebrate your conference performance. You probably made a ton of new connections, closed a few deals and managed to have a great time while furthering your business objectives. Why not take some time off to enjoy your accomplishments? Though it’s nice to celebrate your achievements, if you dont follow through with your post conference objectives, you might as well have stayed home. Potential business remains potential business if you don’t create and execute on a sound post conference follow up strategy.
A sound post conference follow up strategy is based on organization, research and timeliness. Every business has their own unique goals, clientele and objectives, however, the following best practices should be included in every post conference follow up plan:
Time is Fleeting: Whatever methods you choose to reach out to conference attendees post conference, make sure to employ them quickly. The longer you wait, the greater the chances are that the person who you are reaching out to won’t remember you or pertinent details about your business that appeal to him or her. Basically, unless you are dealing with someone with an eidetic memory, or who takes incredibly detailed notes, waiting to connect may zap all of the momentum that you generated with that contact at the conference. If your contact doesn’t remember you, or why he or she should work with you, you are essentially stuck giving your “elevator pitch” again over the phone. Therefore, we recommend that you wait no more than one week to reach out to potential business partners after your conference. This short break allows attendees to get back into their normal work habits and handle any pressing business that arose while they were at the conference.
Forget Me Not: Unless your timing is impeccable, chances are, you wont get a hold of everyone that you reach out to on your follow up list. Therefore, it is important to track your communication activities to be able to determine when it’s time to send out another email, place a follow up call or send another quick Skype message. Creating a simple spreadsheet, which includes communication dates, is a common method that many people use to manage their follow up activities. Others prefer more integrated solutions like Zoho CRM, Basecamp or activeCollab. Additionally, your follow up list can be used to evaluate the ROI of a particular conference and help you decide on whether it’s worth attending or exhibiting at the following year.
Well Read: Before you decide to pick up the phone, send an email or reach out to someone you met at a conference via social media, make sure you do some research. Everyone is “slammed” with work, and if they are not, they have better things to do than think about work. Therefore, it behooves you to spend some time studying the company or individual who you will be reaching out to. Check out their site, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and any information that you can gather online. The more prepared you are, the greater the chances are of establishing a working relationship with your contact. Most importantly, knowing a company’s or individual’s skills, services, and prices will help you determine the end goal of your meeting with your contact.
Using Every Club in your Bag: In an ideal world, everyone who you meet at a conference will be able to easily be reached via telephone. You can just call them up, and they will happily be able to chat with you. Unfortunately, not everyone prefers to conduct business via telephone or keep regular phone business hours, and some people dont even use a phone for business at all. Therefore, to reach many of the contacts on your post conference follow up list, you will have to get creative. Email is obviously a great second option. Social media though, is where the real follow up “magic” happens. Using an email address, name or company name, you can easily locate most conference attendees on your follow up list on major social media channels. Once located, feel free to send conference attendees a short and informal message requesting a follow up call. Instant messenger services are also a great secondary follow up option due to their perceived low level of time commitment (compared to a phone call), after hours availability and worldwide usage.
Hopefully, these tips will help you maximize your ROI from the last conference you attended. Perhaps, these tips will be so effective that they will pay for your next conference attendance?