That’s right: all that small talk about the awful weather and your favorite sports teams can really pay off in the long term.
For sales professionals, having an ever-expanding network is instrumental to success – yet 25% of professionals don’t network at all. That’s crazy: even if you’re not one for in-person networking, spending time clicking around LinkedIn has its rewards too.
But what if networking is your favorite part of the job? Can’t get enough of those free canapés and drinks? An absolute master small-talker? There still might be something missing.
Indeed, chatting to a variety of professionals over drinks might be a ball, but that alone isn’t going to get your sales figures up.
The really important legwork has to be done after the event. This is where the pivotal follow-up email comes into play.
Make contact within 24 hours
Use a 24-hour window after the networking event to email your new contacts.
When it comes to networking, there’s no such thing as ‘too keen.’ Trust me – the sooner you email them, the better.
This will ensure your interaction is still fresh in their mind. They’ll still see you as a human person – rather than a faceless entity – when your email lands in their inbox, and therefore will be more likely to respond. Furthermore, they won’t be left scratching their head, unable to remember who you are or when they met you.
Keep the email brief
There might not be a ‘too keen’ when it comes to networking follow-ups, but there is a ‘too long’ – especially with your first email interaction.
If you send an essay-length email after one short interaction at a networking event, you’re making it clear from the start that interacting with you is going to be challenging and time-consuming. To be blunt, you could also come off a little desperate.
These factors are likely to deter a prospect – not to mention that composing a long email for one contact is a complete time drain.
Remember: the purpose of the first email should be to re-establish the connection you began to grow in person, and little else. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of time to go into more detail down the line once you’ve warmed them up a little.
Research your contact and personalize
Personalization is instrumental when it comes to emails. In fact, personalized subject lines alone can increase open rates by 50%. And the magic of personalization doesn’t just apply to cold email campaigns.
If you’ve already met someone at a networking event, you’re at a huge advantage when it comes to personalization: you can use details from your conversation to re-engage them within your email.
While you’re already going to be head and shoulders above the competition, bear in mind that conversations at networking events are usually pretty short. After all, everyone is trying to make as many meaningful connections as possible in a limited time period. So if you need a bit more material to work with, research your new friend’s LinkedIn to discover more common ground.
Use details you find about their current job, projects, or interests to determine how you can best add value, and get them to agree to another call or in-person meeting.
The worst tactic is to email every contact you made at the conference using a boilerplate email. Do this, and you’re wasting your effort at the event – you might as well be cold emailing.
Remind them of your story
You’ve met your contact, you’ve done your research, and now it’s finally time to reconnect. So where do you start?
Following a presentation, 63% of prospects remember stories, but just 5% remember statistics. Human brains are simply programmed to learn through storytelling. Take advantage of this.
High up in your first email, make sure you reference whatever story you shared with them when you met in person. It could be about your job, an interesting project you’re currently working on, or even your hobbies.
In fact, they’re more likely to remember ‘John, the snowboarding fanatic’ than ‘John, the sales exec’ at a networking event where 50% of the attendees are in sales.
Reminding them of your conversation will trigger their memory of talking to you – if they enjoyed your conversation and liked who you are, they’re much more likely to want to continue the relationship.
When it comes to getting a contact to meet you again, the value-add is top of the food chain.
Ultimately, you need to offer your new contact something they want or need, thereby giving them an incentive to invest in the relationship.
After researching your new acquaintance and their business, you should have a good idea of the sort of value-add you can offer. This could be a free demo or consultation. Alternatively, attach an article referencing a topic you discussed together, or ideas for a solution to a problem they mentioned when you met.
Move the relationship forward
You’re coming to the end of your email and it’s crunch time. You need to find a way to move your new relationship forward so it doesn’t fizzle out.
Never end your email without proposing next steps, such as a call, or – ideally – a face-to-face meeting over lunch or coffee.
This will maintain momentum and ensure your connection stays strong, setting you up to score when you finally do try to sell to your new contact. Learn more about the art of meeting request emails here.
Include contact details and social links
Your new contact is likely to want to check you out too – and you want to ensure they find the right stuff.
This is why it makes sense to put all the relevant links and contact details within your email signature.
Make sure you include:
- Email address
- Phone number
What level of success have you seen after networking events? Sound off in the comments: