You can prepare for a conference like crazy and beat the world’s productivity records at the event but you will lose this game if you don’t do a good job right after the conference ends. All achievements can be easily ditched if you decide to lie on oars after the conference.
Earlier, we could stay in the country of the conference for another couple of weeks after the event ended. Sounds like a crime against humanity if you don’t spend a few more days in Las Vegas, doesn’t it? However, now we don’t do it. We arrive, we meet with people, we negotiate, and then we leave in a day or two. The reason: Normally, you have so much work after the conference which you simply cannot perform efficiently in the half-vacation mode. Of course, one can stay for a couple of more days but only if he/she promises to be in touch constantly and have time to work.
Note. This is the third part of the cycle where we share our experience of conference trips. You can read the previous parts about preparation and conference work.
Today, we’re going to discuss:
- what to do in the first place when arriving back at the office;
- how to switch business communication to online after personal meetings;
- and how NOT to lose everything you have achieved in the previous weeks.
What you need to do after the conference
We used to feel lost when we’re coming back from our first conferences. Who to write first? When to get in touch? What to do with business cards? We lost a lot of valuable time thinking about it. However, now we know the answers to the ultimate questions about life, the universe, and everything. This is what you need to do in the first place:
- Process business cards. Put aside cards of the companies that are interested in working with you more than you’re with them. Divide the rest of the cards into important and unimportant. You will work with them.
- Send follow-ups. I do not recommend sending the same emails to everyone you have met. This is counter-productive and simply rude. Write a short email to those who you have discussed something with but without grand perspectives. Even if is something like “Thank you for your time, it was a pleasure meeting with you”. It won’t take much of your time but it will be kind to your colleague. Who knows, maybe he/she will introduce you to someone interesting one day.
- Do what you promised. If you promised to solve an issue of your client, find out details about your product or service, do something, help with something, introduce to someone - do it in the first place. Believe me, the person on the other end of the screen will appreciate it when you reply to him/her in a few days with resolution or information gathered. Especially if you do more than expected. Especially if he/she didn’t expect much from you. This is how true fans of your company are born.
- Report to colleagues from your department. If you have teammates who also work with clients and partners, prepare a brief presentation and story about the conference to them.
- what clients say about our product or service,
- trends that we caught during the meetings,
- insights if there were any,
- useful information from speakers if there was any,
- results and lessons learned after the conference.
- Tell about the conference to colleagues from other departments. At ISPsystem, not only bizdev attends conferences. Developers, designers, marketing, and others regularly visit conferences in their area. We decided that it would be great if everyone would be sharing a few words about the conference they have visited: goals, results achieved, people met, information gathered, etc. Anyone can come and listen to any colleague from any department. This way we also strive to boost overall engagement, awareness, and sociability.
This is what we tell:
There can be more steps. It depends on the format and your approach. We change our methods from time to time and try something new, especially when it is related to followups after the event. By the way, let’s talk about them.
Let’s discuss what emails and when to send after the conference. We came up with the following simple formula:
Chances for reply > 0 if Follow up on the conference day + Follow up in a few days.
We send a short message with gratitude on the afternoon of the same day we had a meeting with a potential client or partner. We use messengers, SMS, or Facebook - something more private than email.
The message can be something like this:
“Hey Kevin, it’s Pavel from cold Siberia. We’ve had a chat about virtualization today. It was a pleasure seeing you, thanks again for your time. As agreed, I will gather information on our control panel and we’ll have a demo for you next week. Talk to you later, and have a great weekend!”.
Don’t write down the meeting notes and don’t add a lot of details - you will send a follow-up email in a few days for this. If you have made a mutual photo, send it too.
By sending a quick message on the same day, you are killing a few birds with one stone: You remind about yourself, summarize agreements, open a new communication channel, and add more positive attitude. Not a lot of people really use such approach so you will definitely stand out against the others.
In a few days
It is very important to send the follow-up email during the first week after your return. If you do it later, they might not remember you very clearly.
We always prepare a personalized email. We prefer emails as opposed to messengers. Your follow-up email must contain:
- A short resume of the meeting. Don’t rely on the memory of the other person. He/she might have had a lot of other meetings, and it might be difficult to remember in details what was discussed and who is that Pavel from cold Siberia. But you didn’t forget it and documented it all like it has been advised in the previous article, did you? :)
- Link to your website or description of your product/service. But please don’t write a 10-page story about all its features, this is not a marketing email.
- Suggest the next action or do the next action. In most cases, we suggest scheduling a conference call. Sometimes, if we have already talked about testing, we create a testing account, send credentials and instruction on how to test the product.
Talked about something else? Don’t forget to mention it. Promised something? Do it and mention it. Can’t fulfill your promise in time? Apologize and choose another date for follow up.
Something can go wrong
Email sent, it was replied, you had a few discussions and decided to have a deal. A really good scenario that doesn’t happen very often in the real universe. Problems can appear at any moment.
There is no reply after your followup
You can’t be sure that it won’t happen. If it happened, I recommend to wait a few days and send another email. It should not be the exact copy of your first follow-up but a new email with a copy of the first one and a comment like ”Hello. I sent you an email on Monday but have not received a reply yet. Probably you’re too busy right now. Could you please tell me when it would be a better time to discuss our topic?”. About 50% would reply to such an email. As for the other half, write to them in another week but in Facebook, LinkedIn, SMS, or WhatsApp. No pressure, just another reminder or request to reply.
Still no reply? Wait for a few more days and call. This is your last chance. If it doesn’t work too, add the company to the waiting list, set a reminder, and get in touch in a month or two. If the person keeps silence, then it seems that you’re not interesting to him/her anymore. Now, it’s all on you: If you feel that the game is worth the candle, don’t give up.
You’ve got the reply, everything was going well but then - silence
Maybe, your potential deal is not interesting anymore. Maybe, there is just too much work. Maybe, there is something personal, or vacation. Don’t give up and continue to write and call.
A person you have met at the conference changed the job or department. If so, ask to introduce you to a new contact person. He/she might be too busy at the new place but normally everyone is ready to share contacts or even introduce you personally. After that, it’d be best to schedule a quick introductory call with the new contact, induct him or her into what has been discussed earlier, and tell about where you’re at now.
That’s all. I hope that the recommendations given in the three articles will help you take part in business conferences more efficiently. Not everything goes as expected and not always, and your experience can differ much from ours. If it is so, feel free to share it and tell us what life hacks you have. Good luck!