Our Office Manager has recently started visiting a number of local business networking events, meeting and greeting fellow local businesses, chatting about work, life and the universe, and (hopefully) putting down the building blocks for a business relationship that will be of mutual benefit for both parties for a good time to come.
But once the networking event is over – what then? After returning to the office with a fistful of business cards – the easy thing to do would be to start building a nice pile of cards in the corner of her desk as a very efficient dust-catcher.
But really, what should we do with all those business cards that have been collected?
Here’s the system we use to try to maximise the benefit out of all those business cards we collect:-
- Within 48 hours of attending the networking event, schedule 30 minutes to follow up on the business cards you’ve collected.
- Input the business cards as a new Contact into Microsoft Outlook so they can easily be referenced for the future and shared with others.
- Send a follow-up e-mail to the person – I often reference a specific conversation (not always business related!) that I’ve had with that person at the networking event. If you’ve got a terrible memory, like me, then carry a pen with you to the event and make notes on Business Cards received after each conversation.
- Connect with that person on Social Networking sites such as LinkedIn.
- With their permission, add that person to the companies e-mail newsletter list – we use a service called ConvertKit to manage these details.
- Be “The Connector” – if you know of somebody who would benefit from being introduced to the person you’ve met – make that introduction!
- Finally – if there is a genuine potential need for the new contact for your businesses service (and I should stress that going into a networking event looking to SELL is a very bad idea! However, sometimes you meet someone at just the right time when they need your services and it’s worth discussing further) then add the details as an “opportunity” in the CRM system and follow-up by telephone.
Do you do things differently to the above? If so, how do you approach things? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – leave a comment or e-mail me.
However you do things, make sure you have some sort of system in place for collecting business cards – otherwise, all that time you spend at those networking events will be nothing more than time spent having a chat with a fellow local business, and a pile of cards gathering dust on your desk!