Your brain is still buzzing from the incredible educational sessions from the conference floor. You’ve shaken all the hands, had great conversations about partnerships and made what you hope to be valuable business connections. But before you leave the conference feeling like you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do, there’s still work to be done. Possibly the most important part of your conference attendance is your conference follow up strategy.
Shaking hands and talking business is great, but if you don’t know how to make those connections last, it will all be wasted time. Here are a few ways you can ensure you get the most from attending your next cannabis industry event.
10 Tips for Conference Follow Up Strategy: At the Event
1. Ask about their personal follow-up preferences
You may know someone who never responds to a text, email, or phone call based on their personal communication preferences. Like the 5 Love Languages, everyone seems to have their preferred route for communication.
It never hurts to ask your new connection what their contact preference is. They may have listed their cell phone on their business card, but hate receiving texts. When you establish their best mode of communication, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring they reply when you follow up.
2. Take notes on the back of business cards right after you meet someone
Unless you have an eidetic memory, it will be important to write down some details about your interactions so you incorporate these details into your follow-up. Write down specifics about a conversation, contact preferences, memorable details about them or their business, or questions you’d like to ask in a follow-up. This will ensure your message is packed with valuable and relevant information- which will help them to remember who you are, too.
3. Determine how, when, and why you should follow up
Each interaction may require different timing and styles of communication. If you’ve just come off of an electric conversation about a new partnership, collaboration, or job prospect, it’s best if you follow up within 24 hours. If you had a great conversation that may lead to potential with the contact, follow up within 2-7 days after the conference.
If you didn’t have a great exchange, but still grabbed a card, do yourself (and the contact) a favor and throw the card away. Don’t waste your time entertaining conversation if it will be a dead end, and don’t keep cards you don’t intend on utilizing. It will clutter your Rolodex (do you even use one of those?) and distract you from valuable contacts.
4. Connect right away on LinkedIn
Let’s face it, the best time to do something is in the moment. That being said, it’s tough to do so with formal communication. Luckily, it’s not so tough to hit the “connect” button. Be sure to have the LinkedIn app downloaded on your phone and ready to access so you can pull it up right away after meeting an important contact. It will take a few seconds to send a connection request with a quick “Hi ____, So great meeting you at Conference XYZ. I look forward to connecting with you”. This way if you don’t get to your business cards quickly after the event, you’ve already connected with them online.
5. Offer value first
A great tip from the Harvard Business Review suggests that you go back into your recently added connections to “check the box next to all the people you met at that conference and tag them with the name and year of the conference (for your future reference)”. This is a great tip to keep your contacts organized.
Ask not what people can do for you, but what you can do for them. No one likes a mooch or the person that’s obviously out to use you. Don’t be that guy. Rather, bring value to your new contact by offering value to them.
Based on your conversation is there someone you can connect them to that may be an asset to their business? Did you cover a topic where you could suggest a helpful article or site? Without pushing unsolicited or unhelpful advice, be sure to listen for ways you can provide value to your new connection instead of just the ways you may benefit from them.
After the event
6. Take time to process and organize
After the event, you may be pretty wiped out. Business cards may litter your pockets, luggage, purse, or backpack. Take the time to collect your business cards and implement a process for how you intend to utilize and save them. Some choose a digital business card CRM, others may plug details into a spreadsheet.
Whatever your preferred method is, be sure to organize and utilize those cards within the first week after the event. Any longer, and you may risk never getting to them. If you like digital business card CRM tools, check out Evernote, Worldcard, or Contacts+.
7. Follow up by email
Your follow up should include a few important things and should absolutely not be a generic email. It’s easy to tell if an email has been copied and pasted. To ensure your connection feels your communication is genuine, highlight how much you enjoyed meeting them, a specific detail you’ll both remember from your encounter, and if applicable suggest a time for a follow-up meeting or call.
Depending on the discussion, you may want to keep the first email light and friendly, or include details you discussed, links to reference material, website or business information, or a resume. If you promised you’d send something specific, be sure to include it. If you see your contact as a means to an end and don’t have a genuine interest in them or their well-being your communication is likely to not go far.
If your new contact is a sales prospect, your strategy will depend on what part of the buyer’s journey they are in. Your contact may not be ready for a sales pitch, and you certainly don’t want to scare them away. If you utilize the inbound methodology, you should classify your contact by what stage of the buying spectrum they are in; awareness, consideration, or decision. Regardless of what bucket they fall into, be prepared for the first few emails to be about forming your connection and not getting the sale.
8. Follow up with a text
Depending on how the interaction went, a text message may not be the best way to communicate with a new contact. However; if you developed a quick and candid relationship, a text message may be appropriate. Be sure to include a few things in that first text: Your full name, position or company you work with, a brief thank you, specific details on your interaction, and how you hope to follow up.
Example: Hi Bri, this is Shannon Jones (content creator) from Wick & Mortar. It was great chatting at your booth about developing content around micro-farms in Humboldt County. I’ll follow up via email to set a date for a coffee catch up like we spoke about. Enjoy the rest of the conference! P.s. I love that we are both Midwesterners – we always flock to each other!
Keeping it professional, friendly, and memorable is a good way to build rapport.
9. Continue to follow up after the first touch point
Although you may think you’ve done all the necessary work by attending the conference, following up with an email, and connecting with the contact on LinkedIn, your work doesn’t stop there. Building long-lasting business relationships take consistent effort. If you stay organized and set reminders for additional follow-ups, check-ins, or coffee catch-ups, your contacts will feel a genuine sense of interest and connection with you for years to come.
10. Get your subject line right & include your contact info
You may be thinking “duh, of course I’d include my contact info” but you’d be surprised how many people fail to do so. Don’t simply sign off with “Thank you, John”. Include your preferred method of contact, position, company, and your full name.
When you are sending your email, be sure to focus on a subject line that won’t be skipped over. There may be a lot of “Follow Up” subject lines, so instead, include your name and an important detail from your meeting. By putting the conference and your name in the subject line, it also helps contacts to find your message while digging through their backed-up inbox after the show.
B. Smith from Wick & Mortar – Thanks for connecting about content at CannaCon!
Jennifer Ramos from CannaCon – Let’s chat next week about social partnerships
Prepping your conference follow-up strategy before you head to the event may be your biggest asset in getting the most value from the conference. If you plan to use a business card app, LinkedIn, or another app to keep track of your connections, be prepared with your strategy and stick to it.
For more tips on how to maximize ROI at cannabis conference, download our free guide!