July 3, 2019
Last week I spoke at the Women’s Leadership Roundtable of the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM). Nearly 175 women in science and engineering attended. The two-day conference focused on Personal Branding and Communications. Ironically, I spoke on the Power of Networking. So, how could I not practice what I preached—especially when it came to following up with those I met at the conference. Remember, the real work of a conference comes afterward.
As professionals, we generally attend at least one conference a year. The nonstop networking over a couple of days can be exhausting. We meet, mix and mingle with numerous new colleagues. Once the conference ends, we generally go home to a mountain of untouched work and immediately go into catch-up mode.
But before we put the mound of collected business cards on the shelf, take some time to process them. For instance, are there any specific follow ups you need to do? Who do you want to connect with on social media? Is there anyone that you want to have a deeper relationship with? Capture the data while it’s fresh in your mind.
Below are four follow up “To Do’s” that will generate big benefits.
Spend time Organizing Notes. The plane ride home is always a good time to start organizing your conference notes and action steps. This is the time to think about any follow ups with people you met as well as promises made and key conference learnings.
Use a Business Card App. Sort and upload business cards to a business card processing app. The app allows you to scan business cards with a camera and convert the card to contact information. I use CamCard, but there are many others available. For instance, Evernote offers you the option of connecting via LinkedIn.
Connect Right Away. Did you meet someone that you immediately hit it off with? If so, connect right away on LinkedIn and Twitter. Make sure you mention the conference where you met. If you haven’t done so, in the future, take a selfie of you and your new friend and tweet it to him or her along with a hashtag #enjoyedmeeting you. Also, make sure you jot down those folks who you didn’t get a chance to connect with at the conference, but you’d like to build a relationship with them.
Send a Personal Email. If there are people that you want to follow up with in the near future, send them an email and let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them. For example, schedule lunch if they are local. Or, if you live in different cities you might want to schedule dinner during the next conference. Throughout the year, you can send information that may be of interest to them.
Following these steps will ensure you use your time profitably and get the maximum value out of the conference. More importantly, it will help you continue to expand your network and build long-term relationships.