Conferences are necessary yet stressful events in the professional workplace. Not only are they filled with new names, possibilities, and challenges but subsequent concerns about how to go about contacting someone new without ruining the opportunity, is enough to frighten anyone out of their wits.
Part of the challenge is selecting the most appropriate way to contact individuals based on your interactions with them, how you intend to keep in touch in the future, and for what reasons: you do not wish to be too friendly, too self-promoting, or border on harassment - each of these things won’t curry favour from a potential partner.
In order to make the most of your contact list after the conference, follow these 10 tips:
1. Never send out follow-ups the day after the conference has ended. Everyone you’ve met is as swamped with new information as you are and your mail may get lost or ignored.
2. Never send the same email to everyone! Individualise every mail to the person you are sending it to. Even better, continue a conversation you were having to show you remember them.
3. Your email should include something valuable to your new contact. Think about the last conversation you had and send a link to a resource that may be of interest to them, for example. You need to show that a relationship with you will be mutually beneficial.
4. Keep it short. Time is of the essence and reading a 500-word email from someone you barely remember is not going to sit at the top of anyone’s to-do list.
5. Regardless of who the email is for, whether it’s a famous photographer or the CEO of the next major start-up, avoid filling your email with excessive praise. Be frank and sincere, and if you must compliment them, focus on something you personally experienced instead of their reputation.
6. Ensure you include a call to action or enquiry in your follow-up to encourage continued conversation.
7. If you’re trying to spark your new contact’s interest in one of your products, ensure you know how your product will be useful to them and include this in your mail.
8. Should you connect with your new contact through social media? If you are connecting on a professional basis, a business networks such as LinkedIn is useful and not overly invasive. You may wish to follow their company blog. Avoid connecting to individuals’ private social accounts, such as Instagram (unless they’ve invited you): if you follow your new contact everywhere you can find them, you risk seeming a little desperate.
9. If the purpose of your mail is to request an introduction to someone they know, ask for it immediately. Explain why the introduction will be beneficial but respect their relationship with their contact by adding “if you feel comfortable with it”. Also make it simple for the third party by including a blurb about yourself and how you believe your relationship will be beneficial that can be forwarded.
10. If your emails have been successful and you’ve managed to arrange a meeting, send a thank you note including the meeting’s results and providing something valuable such as an offer of an introduction to a possible relationship or a relevant resource.