If you're lucky enough to be at this year's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, here are two words to the wise: follow up.
Too often, people leave networking events with a stack of business cards that end up in a drawer (or in the garbage) without a second glance. The greatest benefit of attending networking events comes after the event, and it's wasted if you don't follow through.
While simply following up at all is unique -- and will likely help you stand out -- there's a certain art to effective follow ups. No matter if you write or call, plan out what you'll say if the person on the other line picks up or responds to your note.
Here are some guidelines for making the most of your follow-ups:
1. Set the tone. The tone of your communication should be fun and light, while remaining professional and respectful. Don't be too serious, but don't take it too far. You want to extend the great impression you made when you met in person.
2. Remember what was memorable. What was different about the person you're writing to? If they used some sort of marketing gimmick or dressed in a way to support what they do, mention how clever it was. For example, there's a freelance editor I met who called herself the grammar doctor. She would wear scrubs and a stethoscope to networking events. That's creative, and it deserves a compliment.
3. Jog their memories. Mention something you talked about to make them remember your discussion. Talk about what they said about their profession or what they like to do. Something like, "Your views on internet marketing were really refreshing," could work well.
4. Offer a compliment. Talk about their enthusiasm for their industry or their unique ideas and perspectives. Be sincere, and don't come across as though you're kissing up. Just let them know why you think you should continue talking.
5. Be a connector. This is a tip for event organizers, but it's a great idea for everyone. Give them the name of someone you think they should connect with -- someone who can help them in their business or use their services.
6. Close the deal. No, don't pitch them or attempt to sell them something. Your objective at this stage is just to get a meeting. So suggest that you get together for coffee soon. Suggest a time and place, and let them know you're looking forward to seeing them again.
What other key follow-up tips would you recommend? Leave a comment and let us know.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.