Now that you’re settling back in at home after COLLABORATE 19, it’s important to follow up with all of the new connections you made while you were there. Whether you had quick encounters while in line for coffee or had an in-depth conversation about business goals or opportunities, it’s important to follow up and maintain those connections. You may have collected a few business cards, and now’s the time to sort people into established categories that define how to go about building those relationships.
Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review about how to follow up with people that you meet at a conference once you get home. It’s easy to let business cards pile up and then forget about them; however, it’s important to follow up with the connections that you just made.
Dorie’s article explains that it’s helpful to set aside “processing time” so you can capture data about the people you’ve met. You’ll want to document details in a list or spreadsheet of some sort so you can remember where you met, what you talked about, etc. It’s important to define what your goal for that relationship is. The article broke down three categories that new connections may fall into:
- Miscellaneous interesting people: Connections that fall into this category may be people that your work doesn’t necessarily overlap with. However, it’s still nice to have connections with a diverse group, so it can’t hurt to keep in touch. You never know how you could potentially assist each other in the future. Following up with a friend request on LinkedIn could be a good strategy for this type of connection. This way, you’ll stay connected down the road, but you don’t necessarily need to communicate right away.
- A specific reason to follow up: This category is simple. With these people, there is a clear mission. The opportunity is specific (i.e. an invitation to speak at a university or company). Follow up with them in a timely fashion, ideally within a week, to remind them of your talk and follow up with more details about the opportunity.
- Building a deeper relationship: The third category is made up of people that you would like to build a long-term relationship with. Whether it’s for business or personal reasons, it’s important to have a strategy that can turn your quick encounter into something more meaningful. This is easier if you live in the same city because you can meet up at events and build that relationship in person. However, if you live in different cities, you’ll have to come up with a different strategy. You could connect at future events that you’ll both travel to, visit with them if you’re ever in their town and vice versa, or simply connect through actions like sending interesting articles or helpful tips for work or life. The key is to make sure that you are actually being helpful with your suggestions and not sending useless information for the sake of conversation.
To learn more about developing a strategy for how to follow up with connections made at conference, check out Dorie’s full article in the Harvard Business Review, which is attached below.
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