In a small city like Asheville, NC, meeting people through networking events is one of the very best ways to get a strong foothold in your community. Networking events give you the opportunity to meet a large amount of other local entrepreneurs in a small amount of time.
By giving yourself a goal of pursuing 3 new contacts that you schedule to meet outside of the event, you can further your relationship with pivotal businesses and expand your personal network. Taking notes on the back of business cards when you are meeting someone will help you remember topics you discussed and provide more information for follow-up contacts with them. If you have something in common, such as knowing the same person, or having a love of the same sports team, write this down on their card for future reference.
Along the same vein, it is imperative to remember that the information you provide on your business card must be clear. You should have the name of your business, your name with title and credentials, your contact information, and your website URL. If your business name is at all vague about the type of service or goods that you provide, you should not make it a guessing game for your new contacts. Use a telling tag-line or a visual guide on your business card to enhance your business' positioning. Contact information on your business card should include a phone number and an email address. Be sure to put your website URL on your business card. Most people will look to your presence on the web prior to deciding whether or not to further their relationship with you and your business.
Brimming with business cards, you return from a mega-network meeting and wonder what to do with all of them. Truly, you will not want to toss these gems of information into the trash! Take some time to organize and glean the information that you've harvested from the event and use it to help grow your business.
Step 1: Digitize
Create a spreadsheet (or a word document if you prefer) and enter all of the contact information from each of the business cards you have received. Include: Name of Business, Contact Name, Email Address, Website and Phone Number. You may also want to include an "info" section beside each of your contacts to jot down personal information for your reference (such as which networking event you both met each other).
Step 2: Separate
Separate the business cards you've collected from the networking event into 2 piles: those you want to follow-up with an invitation for coffee, and other contacts for future reference.
Step 3: 1: 1 Follow-Up
Contact those precious few folks that you really want to develop a relationship with and set up another time to see each other face to face.
Step 4: Organize
Organizing your email lists will enable you to become more efficient when delivering information to targeted audiences. Email lists can be divided into such categories as by Meeting Event / Date, Business Genre, Colleagues & Close Acquaintances, etc.
Step 5: Newsletter Email Follow-Up
Whether you are going to include all of your email contacts or specify certain groups, create an informational newsletter about what's new in your business, trends in the industry, and useful tips that you want to share with your community. Be sure to provide your contact information in the email.
* IMPORTANT * When you email a group of people, you must provide an opportunity for them to 'unsubscribe' to your newsletter. MyNewsletterBuilder and ConstantContact are two professional options to consider that enable 'unsubscribe' buttons. (MyNewsletterBuilder is local to Asheville- I've been using them for years!)