1) Make sure you have enough business cards. I know this sounds sort of like a no-brainer but you’d be amazed how many times folks show up without business cards.
2) Make sure and have a pen with you at all these events. When you talk to someone and get their card, jot a few quick notes on the back so you remember what you talked about. If you don’t I can almost guarantee you’ll forget by the time you get home.
3) If there is a meal served, be sure to sit with people you don’t know and introduce yourself. It’s easy to make conversation with people you know, even better to network with people you’ve never met.
4) Send a quick handwritten note after the event: while it’s easy to point and click and send an email, send a handwritten note instead.
5) Facebook friend them: when you get home be sure and send a friend request to your networking buddy.
6) Follow them on Twitter: it’s always a good idea to become one of their Twitter tribe if they’re on Twitter.
7) If they have a blog, subscribe to their RSS feed so you can keep track of what they’re writing about. From time to time be sure and chime in by leaving a comment on their blog!
This makes a lot of sense, I recommend adding an element;
Do these ONLY if you find the person interesting in some way, and feel the need to develop some sort of relationship with them. Nothing bugs me more than receiving a few dozen solicitations from people I don’t remember meeting…
Having a specific target when I attend (or exhibit) a trade show increases my chances of meeting 3 or 4 very interesting folks, about 10 “ok” people and a bunch of one-time acquaintances. The above steps are important for the 3 or 4 very interesting ones. (maybe not Facebook, I keep that for personal).
My target is typically to develop some business idea or concept, or to find a upplier or buyer, or to meet a banker who understands the dynamics of my business and industry, etc.
It’s easier doing business with 50 strong contacts than 1,000 business cards.
Remember, a contact is someone you know and who knows you. The others are acquaintances and business cards.
I appreciate this. It is good to have when meeting someone one-on-one. Sometimes we meet possible customers and not prepared with the above. Thanks.
Thanks for this valuable list. As a former salesperson turned fiction writer, let me add a couple of points to fine tune the list.
1. Carry a little notebook, (find them at dollar store in packs) to jot down seating chart, specific quotes, etc. Also, if someone is out of cards, give them the book to write down their name and e-mail. Don’t waste your cards on their lack of preparation.
2. Definitely do the personal note! I used to carry a folder with notes, envelopes, and stamps. Even if it was just two or three lines, (maybe one of the quotes I jotted down in my notebook) I’d get it off in the mail within twenty-four hours. You’d be amazed at how that small, but personal and timely gesture, can set yourself apart from the crowd.
Ginger B. Collins
Thanks for these tips.
As someone who can find myself in the corner at networking evenings for writers i’ve found it useful to think of making connections.
I like what Bernard said about contacts and I think of connections in a similar vein. The prospect of relating to others in order to make a sale so to speak feels too superficial – i don’t want to know them i want to know what they can do for me for example. This does little for my soul.
Your tips are so helpful. I really enjoy your blog.
Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much! And thanks for reading….
Nice concise & helpful list. I’ve read whole books that didn’t give this much good information. If I might add a couple of things: Only give your card to someone who asks for it but try to get one from everyone you want to follow up with. Make that pen a Sharpie that will write on coated cards. If you promised to get back to someone with information, email it within 24 hours.
I don’t “friend” anybody that isn’t really a friend, but that’s just me. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to try, but don’t get your feelings hurt if they don’t accept your request.