Don't Lose Touch! How to Follow Up With Convention and Trade Show Leads

You’re at a fantastic convention – you’re meeting great people, exchanging ideas and generally reveling in this networking event. It’s easy to think you’ll never forget any one of those brilliant and interesting human beings.

But then you get on a plane, spend a weekend with the family and come Monday morning, you have only a vague idea of who they were and why you were looking forward to connecting again later.

Prepare to Follow Up

Gathering business cards is better than nothing, but it may not be enough of a trigger to really remind you of who they are and why you want to follow up with them.

Before the conference, create a Twitter list for this conference or event. Add all your new contacts to the list. Search any applicable hashtags to add people you may not have met, but would like to. This gives you some context on where you met.

Take pictures of the people you meet (with their permission, of course). You can always say, “I’m terrible with names, but I won’t forget your face. Do you mind if I take a photo of you?” Then later you can create a note in Evernote, adding the photo, details of your conversation and even an image of their business card.

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Apps like Evernote Hello allow you to scan a business card and add information such as social profiles and notes on your meeting. It also searches for their LinkedIn profile by their email address, adding a very handy image to help jog your memory.

Prepare your new contacts for future connection by telling them that you’ll follow up. It could be something as simple as, “I know of a really great tool I’ve found very helpful with with XYZ. When I get back to the office, I’ll make sure and get that information to you.” This also makes you accountable!

1) Social Media

Social media is a good no-pressure platform to slowly nurture you new connections. If you met someone but didn’t make any real plans to follow up, this may be the best place to start.

You’ve already added your contacts to a Twitter list. Now make sure you and your business accounts follow them and their business accounts. Send out a quick, “It was so nice meeting you, can’t wait to continue our discussion on XYZ!” Now they’re primed for you to reach out.

Invite them to connect on LinkedIn, making sure to send a personalized invitation that includes a reminder of how you met. Make it a point to interact with their activity on LinkedIn, Twitter and elsewhere. Share their company’s content when applicable and tag them so they will be alerted (and appreciative).

2) Email

Send an email a day or two after the conference. Remind your contact how you met and mention a highlight or two from your conversation. If you can think of anything that might help them (a tool, app, blog post, ebook) make sure to pass that along, too.

Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media adds, “I always include something about a story they told me or something that happened to us to spark an "ah ha – that's who this is!" moment within the person I'm reaching out to. You meet so many people, sometimes it's hard to remember who is who and what is what.”

3) Telephone

If someone gave you their contact information, knowing you would call to follow up, by all means, do it! They may actually be waiting for you to call.

Kerry Garbis, President of Ovation Communication shared this pro tip with us via Twitter: “Everyone will be following up post-show on Monday. give your leads a minute! Call them on Tuesday PM or Wednesday AM.”

4) In-Person

If you’re in the same geographic area and you really hit it off, stop by to drop off some information and maybe an invitation for coffee or lunch for another day. Respect their busy schedules, but show some initiative and take advantage of your proximity if you really want to connect. They will not forget that you actually stopped by the office!

What’s your favorite and most effective way to follow up with someone you met at a conference or trade show?

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