If you’re like me, the last two days at TechCrunch Disrupt / London has been awesome. My head is filled with new ideas and my pockets are filled with new business cards. Now it’s time to make something happen from all these new connections and inspiration. We’ve developed our follow-up routine together as a team at Inkpact, and we hope some of our ideas will help spark ideas for your follow-up practice.
There’s no time like the present
Recency drives follow-up. The golden rule is the sooner the better. We have a goal to get all our follow-up messages out within 5 working days, and the most important ones out within 1 working day. I always block out the first day back in the office after any conference to work on follow-up. For massive events like TechCrunch Disrupt / London, I may block out a day or two more.
First thing we do is organise the contacts by dividing them into groups according to priorities – we have the A-list, the B-list and the C-list. We like to follow-up with everyone we’ve met, as an early-stage company, it’s a good marketing tactic for us to get our name known and we are firm believes in the “hey, you never know” philosophy. Someone whom you think may not yield much could turn out to make the connection that really makes a difference. You can never have too many friends.
Don’t trust your memory to remember it all. The notes we’ve made on contacts, either in the notebook we’ve kept on the stand or jotted down on the back of the business card, help determine into which list we place the contact. As it happens, there are always some that escape this practice. We then do a little web research to nudge our memory and this usually is successful. Spending a little time on company websites or looking at profiles on LinkedIn only helps improve our knowledge and the point-of-view for our message to them.
Your message should be meaningful, genuine and not all about you
Whether you’re sending an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, an email, text or handwritten letter, it’s best to mention something that references the conversation you had at TechCrunch Disrupt / London. Be specific. Your notes will spark the nugget that prompts them to remember your conversation. If this contact is a potential customer, don’t try to come on strong with a sales message. Get your point across subtly, if you think you need to make a sales point, but focus on trying to learn more about their business as you’ll have more success at the right time for a sales message by being able to better target your message to their needs.
Use a conversational tone. Speak like a human, not a form message. No one wants to think that they are part of a follow-up assembly line. Show respect for them as a potential contact who may offer something good, mutually beneficial and business positive as the relationship develops.
Think about what you can do for them. Maybe you know someone who would be good for them to connect with, and if so, offer to make the introduction. In fact, maybe there’s someone you met at TechCrunch Disrupt / London that you think would be a good connection for this contact, so why not offer to put them together? Maybe you’ve read an article that relates to the conversation you had. If so, why not send it along? By being helpful and proactive, you establish yourself as a professional who is worth getting to know. If there’s something that you do want from this person, the opportunity to ask will present itself. We agree, this approach takes a little more time but we have seen good results from the investments we’ve made in using it.
Use all communication channels at your disposal
Once we take a look at our three lists and finish our review getting to know our targets a little better, we decide the best communication channel to use. It’s usually pretty evident, once we done our homework, whether it’s better to start with Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or send a message through email or in the post.
As a company that produces handwritten, personalised communication for companies, you can bet that we are going to say that a handwritten letter sent in the post is most effective form of communication. As corporate email accounts receive an average of 100+ emails a day and about 44% of bulk direct mail gets thrown away, unopened, handwritten communication is about the only way to make sure your message gets received and read. When we’ve followed up on campaigns we’ve produced for clients, 99% of the recipients remembered receiving it and the message. LinkedIn, Forbes and other online blogs and publications frequently remind readers of the difference that a handwritten note makes when you meet someone new or want to introduce yourself to a potential client or new partner.
When you’re looking to make a difference to your business, it’s definitely worth the time to send off a personal, handwritten note. But, today’s well-rounded business relationships move fluidly between all channels, so we don’t use one channel exclusively. Our goal is to find 5 to 10 contacts from every conference who we’d like to meet again, face-to-face, to continue the conversation. So, about a week or two after TechCrunch Disrupt / London is over, we’re going to pick up the phone and ask to meet them for coffee.
About the author
Andrew Martin is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Inkpact, an early-stage company that uses technology to leverage the power of handwritten, personalised communication. Find out more at www.inkpact.com. Contact Andrew via email - firstname.lastname@example.org