How to Master Following Up After Networking Events (Hint: Automated Emails)
“I go to these networking events and just stock pile business cards. I never am able to turn them into relationships because I don’t have time to meet up with all these wonderful people. I’m just too busy. I need an assistant for things like this, but I can’t afford one.”
My friend, a small business owner, lamented these words to me over lunch recently. I could tell that she was exhausted and overwhelmed.
She was facing a plight that many small business owners have: managing administrative tasks while juggling high priority projects.
I completely get it. I get what small business owners mean when they exhale deeply and mutter, “I need an assistant.”
They are overworked and spending too much time on details that are not directly generating revenue.
However, when I ask how they are using technology to help them with their workflow, they all say, “I use a calendar that syncs automatically and send me reminders.”
This is a great start, but too often there are no systems in place to help these business owners move beyond their calendar app.
So, the foot-work that they do is cumbersome: go to a live event, luncheon or seminar; walk around a room meeting everyone you can while repeating “what do you do”; gathering business cards; going home and shuffling through the cards to figure out who’s “worth going to coffee with.”
Everything is an act of labor and time management.
Everything is contingent on the business owner’s ability to stretch his or her own time and physically be at a location.
This is a huge problem!
Automated emails can solve this problem.
How do automated emails work?
There are several third party email platforms that can be used to send automated emails. I personally use MailChimp and previously used Aweber. A third party email platform allows its users to schedule emails to be sent to a list of emails based on date and time or based on actions that the email recipient takes. For example, I can craft an email about a service or product that I intend to send out 24 hours before the service or product launches on my website. In this example, the email will be programmed to send at a certain time, on a certain date, and everyone receiving the email will receive the same email at the same time. The alternative method for scheduling the emails would be to base them off of the email recipient’s actions. This method works like this: (1) a person typically will enter their name and email address into a form on a webpage (e.g. Sign up to our newsletter to get $50 off your first purchase); (2) the email platform will recognize that a new subscriber has been accepted into it’s database; (3) the email platform will send a “welcome email” to the new subscriber immediately. In this scenario, only one person on the list is receiving the email and he or she will continue to get emails sent to them based on actions that they take. So, if there is a button in the “welcome email” that says “Click this button for a chance to win a free product,” and the person clicks the button, then they might be sent a second automated email.
What’s the benefit of automated emails?
Essentially, the email platform has become…an assistant! Instead of having to manually guide and communicate with potential customers, the email platform takes them on a journey. The journey should be created to inform the potential customer about your business and keep them engaged with your brand.
So, how does this help with business cards that are collected at events? Easy answer.
Imagine that you have written 5 emails for 10 categories of business: (1) beauty, (2) industrial, (3) legal, (4) medical, etc. The first email for each category is a “Welcome Email” that is crafted so that certain words can be filled in dynamically, based on what was placed inside the text field of a form.
Imagine connecting these pre-written emails to a form on your website. The form on your website should ask in depth questions like: (1) name of contact; (2) name of contact’s company; (3) contact’s email address; (4) business category that contact falls under (this would be one of your 10 categories). (You’ll see these exact words again in a few moments.)
Once you come home from an event, you sit at your computer and pile your business cards on your table. You place all the information about the contact in your form, and press “Submit.” Once you hit submit, the form is sent to the third party email platform and the contact is entered into a list called, “Networking Contacts.” Your “Networking Contacts” list is connected scheduled to send off emails based on recipient action. So, it registers your new entry as a new subscriber, and immediately sends off a “Welcome Email” that reads as follows:
Hey [name of contact]! It was great to meet you today. I would love to know more about [name of contact’s company] and how my company can support what you are doing in the [business category that contact falls under] industry. I’d love to hop on a quick video call and discuss how I can support you. Here is a link to my calendar, if you have time to chat this week, let’s set it up!
When this email goes out, it takes the data from the form and populates all the bracketed parts of the letter. Now, you have an email that is 100% personalized and you can send out 10 emails in less than 2 minutes. You don’t have to schedule anything because your calendar is available for the contact’s viewing, and you can use technology to meet with them.
Imagine having buttons in that initial “Welcome Email” that allow you to automatically send follow up emails and emails specifically related to how your company can help to set them apart in their industry.
The possibilities are endless, and guess what: you only have to do the heavy-lifting one time! Draft your emails once. Create a sequence for them to be sent out to your list. Input the contact’s information into one form, one time, and watch the automation magic help you nurture these new friends.
The best part: you will neither need an assistant, nor a ton of money. If you are tired of not being able to nurture relationships, then let’s talk about how automation can work in your business. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.