You've heard the basics of Networking 101 a million times: work the room, hand out business cards like they're candy, and follow up within three days of an event. But even when you check off every box on your networking to-do list, your relationships still seem to flatline.
Marrying your conference and inbound strategies is a powerful way to maximize your conference experience. But the best networking methods won't fast-track relationships without one core principle driving them: staying top of mind with prospects.
How are you consistently staying relevant with your partners, prospects, clients, and brand advocates? What are you doing to become the first name that comes to mind when a customer is ready to make a purchase decision or offer a recommendation?
A business or follow-up email will only go so far. Here are a few strategies I regularly practice to stay top of mind after a call or networking event:
1. Organize your contacts, and actually do something with them.
At Influence & Co., we use Contactually, one of our clients, and HubSpot, a partner of ours. My Contactually account organizes thousands of contacts so I can deliver relevant content to each person and make sure no one slips through the cracks. The system even reminds me when I need to be more active with certain people so I remember to check in with each contact regularly.
2. Create a net, and share content that's valuable.
I used to engage in conversations with a lot of people at events and conferences, only to never hear from them again. Now, consistently publishing columns on Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn helps me connect with contacts--whether they stumble across an article I've written or actually read it. Having frequent one-on-one conversations with everyone in your extended network is nearly impossible. Writing and publishing content allows you to reach a larger audience, offer them a valuable resource, and ultimately shape the relationships moving forward.
3. Remind people that you exist.
Typically, if you're a reputable company offering superior service, people are willing to help you out and send business your way. One key to this rule, however, is that they have to remember you exist. By contributing on LinkedIn, you'll regularly appear on their radar. You're already connected with your contacts on the platform (hopefully), and each time you publish an article, everyone in your network receives a notification. This can open many doors to communication and subconsciously reiterate your existence.
4. Add meaning, especially to important relationships.
Touching base via email or sharing articles your contacts publish might not be enough interaction to keep you top of mind. Instead, look for ways you can add meaning to the relationship.
John Ruhlin, one of the nation's gifting experts, recently sent me one of his own products to thank me. I loved the personalized knives, but what stuck out to me most was that they weren't delivered at the same time; I received a different part of the set each month. John's unique gesture consistently reminds me that he exists, and it made him more memorable.
5. Remember details outside the business relationship.
When is that contact's birthday? Did someone in your network recently update her LinkedIn profile with a promotion? During your last call, did a potential client mention he was a soon-to-be parent? Reaching out and saying congrats on the new baby or job can go a long way, so be proactive in recognizing important events and milestones.
Although these details sound simple, I've rarely come across people who do all--or even any--of these things well. By using tools to get organized and stay relevant to your contacts, opportunities, referrals, and partnerships will naturally begin to materialize.
It all goes back to the value you provide. Make nurturing your networking relationships a regular priority, and people will remember you for it.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that provides a turnkey thought leadership solution for companies.