In last week’s post, we talked about organizing business cards with 3 simple tools. The first thing you need to do is take the cards and enter them in some manner. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Access, Gmail contacts, one of the many iPhone/Android applications that make a contact list by taking pictures of business cards,* or whatever works best for you. The important thing is to do something besides letting them sit in the bottom of your purse or in the back of a desk drawer. Personally, I like to use a Google Drive Spreadsheet, because then as long as I have access to a computer, I can edit my list (unlike Excel, where I’d need to be at my desktop).
You can meet many different people while you’re out networking, but let’s narrow them down to two types.
- Clients (or potential clients)
- People that you can help or people that can help you.
Chances are not everyone you meet will be a client or potential client. If you do meet someone that showed an interest in your services, make a note and contact that person within 24 hours. Ask to set an appointment time where you can get together to see if you’re a good fit. If you meet someone who did not specifically express a current interest in your services, you can still send them a note (within 24-48 hours) and let them know it was good to meet them and you are available to meet with them if they have any further questions. Invite them to look over your website or follow your blog or subscribe to your newsletter. You may meet many people that are not clients or prospective clients, but there might be some people that you can form a mutually beneficial relationship with. You may have clients (or friends) that need the service of someone you’ve met, and they might have clients (or friends) that need the service you provide. If you think that someone might be a referral partner or lead generator, contact them and ask if they’d like to meet for coffee or lunch.
Some business owners specifically choose to connect with one or two people. If that works for you, that is great, as long as you’re making a firm choice (and not avoiding contacting other people out of fear). I choose to touch base with most of the people I’ve met. I put their information in my database and send out *ONE* email basically saying “it was great to meet you, let me know if you have any questions, read my blog, subscribe to my newsletter.” Once is opening the door and being inviting; if you do much more than that you’re being a pest (and possible spammer). *NOTE: When using an app to make a contact list with business cards, you will need to make sure to check that contacts are entered correctly. One app I tried would not pull any information from some of the more unique business cards, and one app I tried decided one of my colleagues was an “alth” coach. I have strong enough keyboarding skills that I prefer to type my business cards in. If you do a great deal of networking and need help entering business cards in a database, I do know someone that can help you.