Good follow-up discipline is an essential business skill. Relationships are crucial to almost every business out there, and if you don't follow up effectively, you miss out on a lot of potentially extremely helpful relationships.
We've covered the topic before, but it's good to get different points of view and approaches.
Alex Moore proposes a systematic approach to following up:
- Have a canned message for the conference.
- Sort the business cards you collected into VIP, Useful, Marginal, and Unhelpful.
- Follow up on the VIPs first, heavily customising the canned message to personalise it more and include something that you want to ask them. Set yourself a reminder to follow up again 4 days later.
- Go through the Useful cards, and do more or less the same thing, but without always asking for something explicit.
- If you have time, go through the Marginal cards.
- Throw out the Unhelpful cards. Decline invitations to have coffee (harsh, but helpful if you're very busy).
- After 4 days, follow up again on the VIPs who didn't get back to you.
Alex also proposes some tools, like Boomerang (Outlook-only) or CardMunch to help with these tasks.