We have all just come off an intensive week of events with Techweek 2018. Being the avid networkers we are, I’m sure you’ll have made some new contacts, if not new friends, while your pile of business cards might be starting to build an impressive pyramid – you know you should convert your networking efforts into something more tangible.
Here are three key things you can do this week to turn your Techweek contacts into something really useful:
1. Connect on Linkedin
To me, Linkedin is nothing to do with recruitment and everything to do with having a digital Rolodex on steroids. Linkedin provides the means to stay in touch with someone for the long run; if they shift job, change phones or move to another country, you stay connected and can always engage via in-mail.
It is really important to do this in the first few days after meeting someone, so neither of you forget the event or context in which you met. In most cases, you don’t need to do anything more than connect, but if the contact falls into the “prospect for anything” bucket (think customer, supplier, sponsor, mentor, friend), setting up a meeting is the next most natural step.
2. Reconnect in person
This doesn’t men filling your week with meetings. It does mean reaching out in person and seeing if you can find a mutually beneficial time to engage. This can be a phone call to start with; or even better some kind of remote engagement via video (Hangouts, Zoom or Skype – to name a few).
It also pays to think a bit laterally. Calls can be made in the care while you’re driving to or from the office. Catch ups can be early over breakfast, over coffee, lunch or a drink at the end of the day. While the default for most meetings is an hour, it doesn’t have to be.
Nor does it just have to be one-to-one; be the catalyst for a group of like-minded people to get together. Having met them once, you should have a good idea as to some common interests (after all that’s how the Tech Marketers Group was born).
3. Convert the card to a contact with context
Treat everything you know about someone as valuable. The bare minimum is name and email address; add to that company, job title, address, phone and mobile contact, and you are starting to build something really useful. This should go into your CRM for business context and/or into your phone or other contact database. No matter what you enter it into, you should also be able to add some kind of context.
Where you made the contact is a great start (#Techweek18). Second, but no less important, is some key, searchable words that you are likely to use to try and find this person when you search the database having ‘misplaced’ their name. The more organised may use some consistent tags, but it doesn’t matter if you get creative. It enhances your chance of finding this person again.
After this you can throw the business card (or digital contact) away. As printed cards are becoming less popular, I am trying to be more vigilant in capturing information directly into contacts or LinkedIn.
The reason you need to do all three of these things is simple. Research has proven that connecting as soon as possible after meeting is likely to forge a more fruitful engagement. Secondly – any one of these things on their own is not going to forge a lasting engagement.
Having a LinkedIn contact without context is not useful; likewise, a contact in your database is only useful for as long as the contact information remains correct. And meeting someone without embedding their contact information digitally is going to last as long as their business card. Combine all three and you have your bases covered.
And finally, nothing beats a personal follow up. Email as a last resort, but ‘face to face’ in all its forms has made a comeback for good reason. Make the effort and reap the rewards. You will be amazed at what can happen.
PS: These guidelines are formed on my best of intentions. It doesn’t mean I execute consistently, but I am getting better.