“WTF do I do with all these business cards?” The common question many attendees ask after a long few days at a conference (this is assuming you are still hung-over). Word of advice: Don’t worry about the business cards until you get back to the office! There is no one that is expecting a call from, well perhaps your wife but other than that, literally no one. However, it is super important to reflect on your experience for personal growth and share that reflection with your peers to show that you are proactive and actually attended the conference to GSD (if you do not know what GSD, be sure to hit me up for some enlightenment)! Weigh out the pros, cons, successes and windows of opportunity and 5..4..3..2..1 – ACT upon them NOW.
Personal Reflection: Write in your planner, journal, smartphone notepad, your daughters scratch and sniff notebook – but just write. For your own personal growth and accountability, be sure to measure your performance at the conference. Learn from mistakes and glorify the major WINS then plan ahead for the next event. Ask yourself: “What could I do better for next time? What should I have done differently? Why do some people refuse to eat fish tacos?” But I digress.
Public Reflection: Blog about it on the company website, Facebook page, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Post on social media. Every business should have a website with fresh content (I know, I know, I need to look in the mirror before saying it here!) From a company perspective, you want to show your audience the strong points of the conference. Try to use more visuals (photos/video) instead of text. Too much text can lead to losing the readers attention (a problem in content marketing!) Reflect on speakers, team member speeches, favorite quotes, prominent photo ops, etc. It is time to dominate.
Follow up, Follow up, Follow up: Take the five most promising people you met, and follow up with them. Send them an email that starts by reminding them of the details of where you met and what you discussed, and ends with a next step to move forward. Do NOT leave it open-ended.
Connect on Linkedin/Facebook: This is one of my favorite strategies. I look the people up on Facebook or Linkedin (or Instagram if they are cute) using their business cards and add them to my network. Now, I know their birthdays, their occupation, and their day to day status (literally!). Best Rolodex in the world.
Introduce two people to each other: One of my colleagues, Steve Lowry, is a master at this. He finds one person at each event and introduces them to someone else he thinks they should know. Now, where those two people take the relationship is up to them, but he is always remembered as the guy who made the introduction!
Thank the host: A quick note thanking them will go a long way. Do not look at these events as a chance to make money or attain clients. Think of it as a personal growth exercise where you not only get to hone your networking skills but maybe even help/enlighten someone else on something they may not have known or thought of. This is a small community and as I like to say sometimes, “It is not about making a buck but about making a difference.”