Simple 7 step plan for following up on networking events

1. Add to a CRM System
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with your customers and potential customers. It enables you to focus on your organisation’s relationships with individual people – whether those are customers, service users, colleagues or suppliers. It allows you to keep track of key information, details of conversations, meetings, action points and a follow up plan.

Some of the most popular CRM systems on the market are; Sales Force, Insightly, Zoho, ACT & InfusionSoft.

2. Connect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an amazing platform for business use. Connecting allows you to better understand the individual you are dealing with, not to mention their company, see who they know, the connections you have in common and the ability to extend your network, identify & reach out to more business contacts. It also offers many free tools to keep your contacts front-of-mind for you (and you to them), seeing and sharing updates, reading interesting posts and articles, joining groups where you can share ideas and collaborate. So after you’ve met link up on LinkedIn.

Check out Evernote & Full Contact which are both amazing apps that let you scan a business card to your smart phone retaining a digital copy, store the contacts details to your smart phone & connect through Linkedin in under 30 seconds.

3. Send an email
Start a dialogue to stay in touch, drop them a brief email indicating that you enjoyed meeting them and why it makes sense to keep chatting. Keep it simple and simply say that you enjoyed meeting them, try to reflect back on a point from the conversation and suggest getting together for a coffee (keep it short and informal) to find out more about them and their business.

It doesn’t have to be long or formal, but you need to move the ball forward.

4. Pick up the phone
You need to appreciate that you will probably not be the only person reaching out and that there are often many reasons why people don’t (or some-times take a while) to respond to emails. Here’s a novel idea: just pick up the phone and call them….indicate that you enjoyed meeting them and would like to keep the conversation going. Ask if they are available next week for a coffee?

5. Meeting 1-2-1
Any contact with whom you interact knows hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. This makes the power of your conversation exponential. Remember: When you’re talking to someone, you’re actually speaking to their entire network.

Give first and expect nothing in return. It is important is to seek out opportunities in which you can help someone with a need they have. Take the lead and expect nothing in return. Most people are wired with a reciprocity mentality; continue to do this, and you’ll grow a positive reputation as someone who pays it forward. People will be attracted to you and will want to help you in return.

So once you’ve developed real trust with someone, you’ll want to be more intentional about how you help them. There is even a handy export tool on LinkedIn’s free version whereby you can download all of your contacts and share their name, company and position with your new connection so they can identify people themselves.

However you do it, sharing your list allows you to reach back out to others in your network to offer a potentially valuable introduction. Once you’ve warmed up the third party on the connection, close the circle and make the warm introduction.

6. Connect on Social Media
The power of Social Media in business is enormous and is generally a two-way street. Show interest in someone else’s business and they are likely to do the same with you.

The most important platforms to consider are:

LinkedIn: Connect with the individual, Endorse them (if appropriate) & Follow their business

Twitter: Follow their business

Google+: Follow & +1 their business

Facebook: Follow & like their business

7. Diarize a follow up action & KIT
With so much going on it is really easy to lose track and not follow up on meetings and / or opportunities. The human brain isn’t always the most reliable so it is imperative that you keep a note of what was discussed, what was agreed or offered and actually diarize (set time aside) to do it.

KEEP IN TOUCH – it would be a shame to put all this effort and hard work to waste by just moving on and not doing what is probably the easiest and least time consuming part of the process.

Details about the author:
Michael Goldman is Managing Director of Invest in Digital LTD, a full service Digital Marketing Agency based in Manchester.

Contact details:
3 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB
Tel: 0161 706 0004