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Posted by  in Appreciation Marketing

So you’ve just been to a networking meeting or a trade show, and you have dozens of business cards. What do you do with them?

Follow up is a hugely important part of your business. If you’re not following up properly, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Usually it takes 4 “no’s” to get the “yes”, and if you only have one contact with a person, you’re never going to get to that yes. It’s also very possible that the person you’re talking to will never use your services, but they may know people who will. How do you stay “top of mind” without being a total nuisance?

This is where a great follow-up system is crucial, and it’s important that it’s also “multi-touch”. Brandon Cornett, in his article How to Improve Your Client Followup says

“Go for a balance of automation and personal contact. Why? Because a program that`s 100% personal contact (phone calls, for example) will be exhausting to maintain. In the other extreme, a program that`s 100% automated (like a scheduled mailing program) will be too impersonal. You have to combine the two.”

“You have the best chance of generating referrals during this first year. In the second and third years, you might choose to reduce the number of phone calls, while keeping the newsletter and auto-mailers going. “

Sound good? Well, here’s how to set one up that will knock your contact’s socks off (yeah, it’s tedious at the start, but SO worth it in the end! Hire/barter with someone to set it up for you if you can’t manage it yourself):

    Before the event

  1. make sure you have a good contact management system. At the very least, set up Google calendar and gmail contacts
  2. Make sure you have a free day scheduled after the event to set up your contact management system with the new contacts you meet at the event
  3. Using an online greeting card management system, create a few card campaigns that are likely to appeal to a general audience that are somehow related to your industry. Make sure you also have one campaign set up to touch base on key holidays – Birthday, Anniversary, and Christmas, for example
  4. At the event

  5. when you’re in conversation with someone new, as you’re talking, be looking for something to say in your follow up. As soon as it hits you, make a note of it on the back of their card. You can find something in common — a topic of interest, whether personal or professional – or listen for what they may need help with.
  6. After the Event

  7. Send a “pleased to meet you” card, refering to specific things in your initial conversation – anything you might have in common or that might “connect” the two of you. Send a personal card that is purely casual and doesn’t include sales talk. On the front of the card have a photo of the client/prospect or their business card. This makes an enormous impact! Inside the card put a small photo of yourself (I do this as part of my “signature” at the bottom of my message). This helps the client “place” you and remember you more easily. If possible, send this card the day of the event or the next day at the latest,
  8. Once the card is sent, set a date in your calendar 2 weeks out to give that person a phone call and arrange a date to meet for coffee. In your calendar put a few notes regarding information you might still be looking for for your MacKay66 (see below) for this client.
  9. Scan their business card and file it into physical place (folder, Rolodex, etc) and also your Smartphone (use a tool like the CamCard Business Card Reader) and then enter all the information into your contact management system.
  10. Paste Mackay66 Questions into your “notes” section on your contact management system
  11. Connect with your contact on all the Social Media opportunities you have in common
  12. Search each client online as thoroughly as possible and fill in the answer to as many of the Mackay 66 questions as possible. Make sure, at a minimum, you find out their birthday and anniversary and enter those into your calendar with a reminder that comes up 2 weeks previous to the date. If no birthday is available schedule in your contact management system to send them an “un-birthday” card 3 months from today, and an “unanniversary” card, 4 months after that. In those cards, request their actual dates if they’re willing to share (“If this card arrives on or near your birthday, I’m delighted! If it doesn’t and you’re comfortable sharing the dates, I’ll make sure that next year it’s sent on time!”) If you get the info before the card goes out, make sure you enter it into your client management system.
  13. On the coffee date: Take an actual interest in their lives, and keep the conversation over coffee focused on them as much as possible. The purpose of this first meeting is to make them feel appreciated, understood, and valued. Use the fantastic tips in the book How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less to make a lasting and positive impression. At this coffee date you also want to invite them to any networking groups or events you’ll be taking part in over the next month or so.
  14. After the coffee date send another thank you card as above, and put your client into the most appropriate follow up card campaign. If they mentioned any special event coming up, or something they’re working on that’s important to them schedule a follow up call to see how this went. At this point it might be useful to also send your client/prospect a quick email and invite them to be a part of your newsletter. Put the sign-up link in the email so they don’t have to look for it. If you’ve written a blog post that pertains to their industry/problem, put in a link to that, as well
  15. Schedule in your calendar to follow up with them on a Face-2-Face 3 to 4 months later. If face-2 face/phone contact happens sooner for any other reason, adjust this date, so that you are making face-2-Face/phone contact at a minimum of every 3 to 4 months.
  16. If, in your day-to-day reading, you find something of interest – a magazine article that talks about their industry, a family engagement, graduation notice in the paper, you hear of their promotion, etc. send a note or send the article.

I know this looks quite overwhelming at first, but I assure you, with the right tools you can automate 90% of it, and it can be amazingly affordable – a 12 month, completely personalized campaign can often be sent for the price of one very nice card – postage included. Fully automated is easy, but it’s also easily ignored (how many newsletters do you delete without reading in your daily inbox?) By augmenting your automated, online campaign with a physical, personal card, you enter into the realm of “wow” follow up, and your clients tend to eagerly open your cards (especially if you make sure the cards are directed at your client, not at yourself).

If you’re interested in discussing this further, give us a call.

Do you have a really effective follow up system you could share? I’d love to hear from you. Share it below so we can all benefit!

Darlene Hull

PS if you want to see how my system works, email me with your mailing address!

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