Occasionally I’ll get a client who says: “You know we spent several thousand dollars to go to this tradeshow when you add up the booth fees, transportation, hotels and food. Then when we got back to the office, we did nothing with all the leads we generated.”
Or, I’ll hear, “I went to a networking event recently. Over all I spent $15 on the entrance fee and $20 on transportation. But more than that I spent time traveling there, being there and traveling home. It took up my whole evening. I got into a few interesting conversations and got business cards from those I spoke with. But you know 3 weeks have gone by and I haven’t touched base with anyone I met there.”
In both scenarios the missing ingredient is follow up. Those that don’t follow up are throwing their time and effort against the wind. It’s like telling the universe, “My time and energy have no value. I don’t deserve success.” They are sabotaging their own efforts. It’s like throwing money out the window and wasting their most precious commodity, their time.
Why do people do that? Fear of success, fear of failure, feeling like they don’t deserve success, like they aren’t worthy of attention from the possible contacts. Lack of time is, of course, an excuse. If they wanted to, they would prioritize the time and make follow-up of ultimate importance. So maybe the networking and trade show weren’t high on the priority list to begin with. Then why get started in what you don’t intend to finish?
Here’s what successful people do.
They realize they have limited time and money. They cherry-pick the events that they will participate in to make sure the events are targeted at their ideal client or the resource they seek.
They plan the whole process, from registration to attendance to follow up and allocate time in their schedule for pre-attendance research and planning, attendance, post-attendance follow up.
They have a follow up process such as: When I go to an event, I write on the contact’s business card, the date and event name, a detail from the conversation that will help me remember him. I also rank the contact a 1-super contact (follow up immediately), 2- ok contact (follow up after the #1’s), 3-add to my mailing list but don’t need to meet with again. The next day I write a thank-you email to the #1’s and #2’s that requests a coffee date, add all #1,2,3’s to my mailing list, invite all to connect on Linked In. Or if I have a virtual assistant, I scan the cards, email the scans to her and delegate any of these duties. Perhaps I use Outlook or a CRM (customer relationship management) software and I want to put the contacts into that for my follow-up process. Or perhaps I have an automated email marketing campaign of 4-5 educational emails I send to new contacts, which then asks each person to join my company’s mailing list (permission based marketing). There are lots of combinations of steps that could match what suits you and your industry.
They allocate time. Every time they are planning to go to an event, they allocate an appropriate amount of time after the event to do the follow up activities. That way they get done.
They look at each new contact as an opportunity, especially those #1’s. It’s a mindset that establishes value, value of the contact and value of themselves. The successful networker puts a lot of value on her own time and resources. She considers her time and money too precious to waste. So she goes to fewer events and capitalizes and leverages each one in a bigger way.
Successful sales people track over time which events yield results and she attends that one more often. Do you have a spreadsheet that lists all the events you’ve attended? Do you track how many #1 and #2 leads you received, how many appointments were generated from that event, and how many conversions to sales resulted? That’s getting granular about making things happen and utilizing your time for the best results.
Tell us about your networking follow up experiences, good or bad, on the proactive or the receiving end. How does it make you feel if you have a great conversation with someone and then they never reach out afterwards? What do you think about that person and how authentic she is? How do you think you come across if you never reach out afterwards?
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I’d love to hear your thoughts.