I’m coFounder and Organizer of PodCamp, which is coming up in a week or two, and I just got an email from a fellow podcaster asking me about how I’ll be planning to manage the influx of business cards, ideas, and conversations/follow-up this kind of an event will bring with it. I thought this might prove useful to anyone attending conferences or events in the coming months (as that season gets underway in earnest in the US at least).
Directly after the Event
Well, directly after the event, I’ll kiss my wife and children, and thank them for understanding why I was completely absent for an entire weekend. But then…
- Gather up your new business cards in a pile.
- If you’ve got a nifty card scanner, have at.
- If not, send a short email to everyone you met. You can template *some* of the text, including your signature and stuff, but be genuine in your reply.
- This gives you a digital copy of their email address to add to your contacts list later (in most software).
- In the mail, mention that it was great meeting them, and mention one or two lines from your conversation. “I was really happy to talk with you about rototilller podcasts. I hope we can develop something on that line in the coming months.”
And this raises a point. Put a “call to action” in the email that prompts them to contact you (if that’s important to you). Mention something specific and actionable that you’d like them to do with you in the future.
Here’s a nice touch: You might’ve spoken with 200 people, and through this process, you might learn that Michael and Sam both have the same things in mind for the future. It’d be nice to send a note to Michael, asking if he’d met Sam, and send one to Sam asking if it’s okay to put the two of you together. (Luckily, this is an example. Michael and Sam, who we reference at Lifehack from time to time, are blissfully married).
Carry this process in your head onto other opportunities. Did you meet four different vendors doing the same thing with different colored bunny ears on top? Invite the four of them to the same lunch and let the shoot-out happen in the open. It’ll save time and make it much easier to endure the repetition.
Load up your Calendar
The best time for action is within the few weeks following the event. Everything’s fresh in everyone’s brain. Entropy hasn’t set in. It’s all still a ball of energy and possibility. Use NOW as a great time to schedule meetings and try to build on the momentum of your personal contact at the event. Especially in this virtual world, that little bit of facetime sometimes catapults new relationships to the next level.
Keep the Cards
I play “shuffle up and email” often. I take my cards from past events, and then send someone a random email (hopefully with value to what they’re doing, and mindful of what I’d want to do with them). The email is a “ping,” a chance to show them that I’m still out there, and that we might still have business. Further, it might just be the thing that gets someone thinking of me for another opportunity.
When you finish a grueling 3 day event in a foreign city, what do you do after reconnecting with your family? How does it relate to what you do for work? Are you in sales? Do you consider your experience to be as your title, or a chance to interact as YOU, the brand?