OK, you collected a TON of business cards at BIO, now what? Get the most out of your BIO 2008 attendance with careful follow up:
- First, keep the business cards as they were originally collected (mine are in groups according to the days I spoke to the people) and write any additional notes on the back of each card soon, while it’s still fresh in your mind. You might even want to write down when and where you talked to the person, so that you can refer to it during your initial contact with them.
- Think about your strategy for following up, and organize the business cards accordingly. Are there some contacts you feel that are more pressing than the others? Did you make several different types of contacts? The categorization will be specific to your objectives for the conference. Also consider whether any upcoming business trips would be merited. For example, if you made many contacts in Boston, you can tentatively plan a trip there, and mention it in the email to your new Boston contacts.
- Before emailing to your new contacts, make sure that your email signature contains all of the information needed to contact you, as well as a link to your website. Make it as easy as possible for them to evaluate your value proposition by including targeted links or small attachments.
- In the email to your new contacts, be sure to refer to details of your conversation with them, and be sure to emphasize why they should remain in contact with you, or meet with you. In other words, answer the question in their minds “what’s in it for me?”
- The LinkedIn online network is a great way to connect to people and to simultaneously show them your professional experience and network. However, you cannot send attachments in the LinkedIn invitation emails, and not everyone uses it. To get around this, you can include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email text or signature, and those who use it are likely to follow the link and add you as a connection.
- Short boilerplate paragraphs in the text of your email are fine, to describe your value proposition. Just be sure to personalize the email wherever possible by mentioning their needs, and ways you see that you can help them.
- Close with an indication that you will follow up with a phone call. That way, if it appears that they have ignored the email, you can still have one more chance to make a connection. Remember also that connections may not be fruitful immediately, and be patient.