After a conference, you may feel overwhelmed with all the things you have to catch up with, but it is important to remember that networking doesn’t end when you leave the conference. If you’re anything like me, your memory starts fading pretty quickly after a long succession of events, so it is important for me to follow up as quickly as possible so I don’t end up losing any of the details.
While at conferences, I generally go a bit overboard when bringing business cards-but I think this is a good thing! I’d rather be over prepared. Throughout the conference, I’m usually doing double duty on notes: things I’ve learned and people I’ve met. Once I get a business card, as soon as I have a moment of free time, I write notes on the back with where I met the person, what we talked about, and things that I could follow up on.
When I get home, I take a few days to decompress and then follow up with emails to all the people I met at the conference that I’d like to keep in touch with. I know plenty of people who send actual cards through the mail, though I’m pretty lazy and just stick with email.
Beyond the obligatory follow up communications right after a conference, I find it is helpful to go through my notes of who I met before I head to another conference and do another round of emails before I head over. If one of my newfound friends will be at the next conference, I try to make sure that we meet up for coffee or a meal to catch up. It is also a great practice to reconnect when you’re preparing proposals-it is always helpful to get input and collaborate whenever possible.
While it may seem obvious to follow up after the conference, it takes time and dedication to continue the communication beyond the first email. For me, I’ve been able to network over the years with people from around the world which makes conference going less stressful and more productive (there’s nothing like running into a friendly face at a huge conference hall). Between this, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I’m able to keep in touch with people in my field while not loosing my mind with all the details!
[Image by Flickr user kelbycarr and used under Creative Commons License]
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After changing job titles a bunch of times (feels like every semester) and the need to network both as a student and other times as a consultant, I gave up on paper business cards. I use a service called Contxts (http://contxts.com/about) which allows me to text my business card directly to a person’s phone or to their inbox from my phone. In presentations, I can include a number on slides for people to text to receive the card or handouts and see how many people “download” my card to their phone (i.e. how many texts went out). I have also made QR code business cards, but so very few people had scanners, even at tech conferences, that I haven’t entirely thrown in with that method.
I also follow-up with people right away, taking notes about what to say as you suggest. Contxts will save their information automatically as well. Additionally, I make sure I blog about the conference quite quickly so that my content can be part of the conference record. I post all of my presentations on my website.
Great suggestion. I had tried using Bump It before but it just didn’t fit the bill. For me, I’m also in a field with people that aren’t always, ahem, comfortable with technology so I figure that email is pushing the envelope as it is!
The bottom line is that networking, whether through cards or awesome apps, is a must and I’m so glad that I had a mentor who walked me through the some of the pitfalls. ?