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I got 64 business cards: How to follow up?

Posted by Deidre Rienzo on

Hi, I'm Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a website copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide).

I’m just back to Ireland from CFC in Chicago—and I feel exhausted and excited. I gained so much from the conference, and even though the sessions totally rocked—the networking was even better.

I have 64 (note-filled) business cards from people I want to follow up with. I’d say 75% of these are from people I made actual connections with—either on a personal/business-friend/advisor level, or on a potential client level. (I’m doubly-lucky. My community of creative pros is also my target market, since I work with designers whose clients need copy written.)

How to follow up?

Last year I was panic-stricken. I had met lots of great people, and I wanted to get and keep in touch—immediately. I sent personal messages to many, most of them nearly identical to the next, and put everyone else into my newsletter list to send a dedicated message. Voila, I was done with follow-up. I had done it quickly and hadn’t missed anyone. But was it personal enough? I don’t think so.

This year, my approach is different. This past year, I’ve come to know that it’s about quality, not quantity. It only takes a few great relationships (with clients and with business-friends) to support a business. Here is my mentality for follow-up this year:

  • Be direct. If there’s something you want to offer, do it. Ask for something. Be open and upfront. You said you’re looking for a copywriting partner. Here are some samples of my work. Can I give you a call next week?
  • Prioritize. Who are the amazing connections you need to follow up with first? Go through your cards, and put the urgent people on top of the pile.
  • Take your time. Real connections take time and effort to build. Good follow-up emails take time to write. You don’t have to follow up with everybody this week—as long as you follow up.
  • Keep it personal. If you’re asking people if they’d like to receive your newsletter, use a template. But for the goods of the email, make it personal. Real relationships are the lifeblood of a business, and I’m treating them with care.
  • Connect how they want to connect. Some people use Facebook as their main mode of keeping in touch. Some use LinkedIn, newsletters, Twitter or plain old email. Making it easy, by using a compatible mode, will support a long-term connection rather than a one-time email. I’ve been hesitant to using Facebook for business—but this conference, and this process of follow up, have shown me that it’s time.

Even though it’s not about quantity, how many business cards did you come back with and how are you following up? Please share your tips and tricks.

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