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Participating in business networking events can be a great way to build your business—provided you have a system in place for turning these connections into relationships. Just like other elements of your marketing plan, consistency is the key.

To ensure that you’re able to follow up after the event, always ask the people you talk to for their business card. Then, before moving on to talk to somebody else, take a moment to jot down a few notes to help you remember what was discussed.



TURNING CONNECTIONS INTO RELATIONSHIPS


You just met some people at a networking or industry event that you think could eventually become great clients or strategic partners for you. Not “hot leads,” but “potential relationships.” Now what? Going from a nice chat at an event to an on-going connection is not going to happen on its own. You need to have a plan for following through.

Here are some ideas for doing so:

Send a follow up note the next day – Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them, and try to reference the conversation. There are some great prewritten templates for this available at HubSpot.

Connect with them on social media – LinkedIn is ideal for this. When you send the connection request, be sure to mention the event at which you just met. Subscribe to their blog. Follow their Twitter feed or Facebook business page. And be sure to periodically comment on or “like” their posts.

Schedule a meeting – Within the first two weeks, reach out to schedule an in-person or telephonic meeting to get to know them better. Make this about relationship building, not sales.

Be helpful – Based on what you have now learned about them, can you make an introduction, suggest a great resource or be of assistance in some other way?

Stay in touch – Look for excuses to reach out at least once every few months. Share notes on good books that you’ve read that are relevant to them, congratulate them on career milestones, watch for mentions of their business in the news (Google Alerts are great for this), introduce them to new clients or contacts, etc.

Send them your newsletter – This is an excellent way to stay top of mind. Just be sure to ask their permission first. I like to do this in the follow up note I send the day after we meet.



 

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