If you are a professional attending SXSW this year, chances are high that one of your goals is networking. When you attend these types of events, it’s inevitable that you will make relationships worth maintaining. Here’s a straightforward etiquette guide for following up with new contacts after the festivities are over.
If the contact is a potential friend/peer…
-Swap phone numbers and business cards.
-If you both live in the same city, suggest to meet up for coffee or lunch sometime after the events are over.
-After SXSW, follow up! Shoot over an email or a text, with a suggested time and place to hang out.
If the contact is a potential employer…
-Ask for a business card! You will want to know the person’s official title, and have a way to contact them in the future.
-After the event, send an email saying “It was great to meet you”. Explain why you’re interested in the company and mention a few points of conversation that piqued your interest. If you don’t know each other too well, you should offer a gentle reminder of how you met (i.e. “I’m so pleased that I bumped into you at ABC coffee stand at the SXSW Expo. I loved hearing more about your digital marketing strategy, and it really got me interested in your company…”) If you know the company has a position available, it’s okay to state your interest in it. If you do this, make sure you attach your resume to the email.
If the contact is a potential employee…
-Give him / her your business card. Ask for a resume.
-Hopefully, a potential employee will be attentive enough to follow up with you as well! However, we all know sometimes the good ones can be in high demand – and we advise following up with hot candidates to show them that you’re truly interested.
-Send an email. If you haven’t already gotten a resume / CV, ask for it now. State what position you think they’d be a potential good fit for and encourage them to apply for it. If you have a job posting, this is the time to send it as well.
If the contact is a potential customer…
-Our friends at Sandler have some good advice here, teaching that it’s best to walk the line between ignoring a new sales prospect and becoming a nuisance. When you meet a contact, it’s good practice to ask what their buying timeline looks like. If they won’t be ready to make a decisions for 90 days, set a reminder to follow up with them – then, instead of pestering them with messages before they’re ready to buy.
-Engage potential customers using your social networks. Connect with them on LinkedIn as soon as possible and, depending on how your relationship began, friend them on Facebook as well. Don’t leave out Twitter!
If the contact is a potential vendor…
-If they’re a potential vendor, chances are high that they’ll snag your contact information the first chance they get. If you’re interested in a product or service, be sure to request the business card of the representative you’re speaking to while you’re still talking in person. You will probably get better customer service down the line if the salesman can put a face to your name.
-If you want to follow up after the event to get more information, remind them where you met and then directly ask for more information about their product. If they’re a good contact, they’ll happily oblige.
And a few overall tips for following up after SXSW:
-Connect, connect, connect. LinkedIn is always a good way to keep in touch with people you meet at events, and it’s always socially acceptable to connect with new business contacts, or even friends. You should also search for them on Twitter or, better yet, ask if they have a Twitter handle (i.e., “I’d love to stay up to date on your start up’s progress… do you or your company have a Twitter account I could follow?”).
-Practice patience. If you have 25 new business cards stuffed into your briefcase, then your new connections probably do as well. Remember that most people need a few days to decompress after the huge events are over, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back right away.
-If you don’t hear back within a week or so after your first follow up, it is permissible to email the contact again. Be polite (i.e. “Hey there Bob. I haven’t heard back from you about the new product we were discussing, so I wanted to follow up to make sure my email didn’t fall through the post-SXSW cracks. Would love to discuss with you soon! Are you free next Tuesday?”).
-Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need. And when you receive a business card, take a picture of it with your phone in case you lose it later.
Ready for more SXSW advice? Check out another article here!