You may read this headline and wonder, “What is she talking about?? The BlogPaws 2016 Conference is just starting!” What I am doing is offering you information that you can read now, mull over in your head while you’re meeting all of the fantastic speakers, sponsors, vendors and attendees at the conference, and use when you get back home. Did you know that close to 70% of all conference or networking attendees do not follow up with people they meet? Do you hear that door opening for your opportunity to connect? I certainly do!
As you’re gathering business cards, talking with people you know, meeting new pet-loving friends, getting a selfie with a speaker or any other networking you’re doing at the conference this week, here are some tips to make it easy for you to be in that top 30% of all conference attendees who actually follow up after the conference.
Why should you have a Sharpie? That style pen makes it easy for you to write notes on the back of a business card. If you have a laminated card, or something that is equally hard to write on, a Sharpie will make it easier to make notes. What do you want to write on the business cards you collect? Anything to jog your memory: Where you met the person. She was a red-head wearing a pink owl scarf. A salient point about the conversation you had. The type of pet he or she had. If you have an idea of how the two of you could work together. Write down anything that will help you to enhance your conversation with this person once you’ve returned home from the conference. Remember, they have met a ton of people, too and if you say, “We spoke by the cheesecake table about partnering up to write a cat post together,” it will help renew that connection.
Organize the business cards
Take the business cards you gathered and sort them into piles:
- Need to connect with immediately
- May connect with in a month
- Asked me to reach out so he could send samples
Performing this task should help you feel less overwhelmed with your follow-up tasks because you’ll see that not every person whose card you collected needs to be followed up with the day you return home.
When to follow-up
Okay, scratch what I wrote above. You do not want to email your new contact the Monday after the conference. Why? Because, like you, that person has been at a conference, he or she has been traveling, it’s likely he or she will need to catch up with their own contacts and personal business. Give them some breathing room. You’ll be giving yourself breathing room as well.
Make it a practice to connect the first week you’re back, but at the end of that week. Don’t let your email get lost in the mix of everything that person is faced with once he’s back in the office. The only caveat is if she said, “Reach out to me on Monday when I get back in the office. I have an opportunity for you!” Then, by all means don’t drop the ball!
Personalize your message
Oh, believe me, it’s tempting to want to send a blanket email follow-up: “Hey, it was great to meet you at BlogPaws. I just wanted to reach out and connect now that we are both back home…” Hmmmm… that certainly sounds like you’re sending that message to every person whose card you collected, right? It’s better to say, “Hey, Susie, it was a pleasure meeting you at the BlogPaws Conference. I loved the pink owl scarf you were wearing. We’d talked, by the cheesecake table, about partnering up to write some cat blog posts. Hope you had a great time at the conference and uneventful travels home. I look forward to hearing from you.” See the difference? Susie will have her memory jogged and a connection is begun. Voila.
Blog about the conference
Whether you live blog at the conference or whether you will blog about the conference once you return home, remember to strike while the iron is hot. Write a blog post or two the week you get back. Chances are the BlogPaws Conference will be a trending topic for a while following the event and you want your blog posts to be part of that trend, right?
When you’re writing your post, make sure it’s insightful. Don’t simply write, “Wow, the BlogPaws Conference was great. I learned a lot. Ate great food. Met new people.” Hmmm, well, we all know it’s a great conference, etc. Make your post be about what you learned, what misconceptions you may have had that were shattered and share information that is relevant and useful to your reading audience.
If you’re writing about a session you attended, link back to that speaker so they will know you have mentioned them.
Amp up your ROI
If you have spent X number of dollars to get to the conference, to stay at the hotel, to buy extras while you’re there and then you go home and say, “Wow I spent $10,000 (exaggeration!) what did I get out of it…” To that I say, you get out of it what you put into it. If you didn’t collect business cards that are of value to you, if you didn’t make any connections that might further your blogging income, if you didn’t learn anything new you need to ask yourself… “Did I put the effort in to do any of those things?” If you spend your time by the pool or exploring the region or sipping wine with friends you won’t likely have received the return on investment you were anticipating.
The connections you make and the ROI you receive at any conference or networking event is wholly related to the effort you put forth.
How robust is your follow-up following a conference?