Last week I shared my tips for recovering from a trade show. Today, let’s talk about turning your trade show leads into business. I know it can be scary to follow-up (and tedious) but that’s why we went to the show in the first place-because we wanted to network and hopefully build our business. Here are a few tips to keep you on track for your follow-up.
1. Get started with follow-up within one week of the show. While it’s good to give your contacts some time to get back to the office and sift through their million emails, you also don’t want to let too much time go by as you will risk forgetting why you want to contact them!
2. Go through your show notes and the business cards you collected at the show and decide what actions you need to take. Use the Tradeshow Follow-Up Worksheet Printable I made for you to get started. Remember-be honest with yourself. An opportunity that seemed exciting at the show, may not really fit with where you want to take your business. Give your post-show follow-up serious thought and make sure everything you act on will get you closer to your business goals.
3. Now that you have your paperwork organized, sort it by order of importance. What needs to get acted on right away? I made some contacts with publishers and I know they have some submission dates coming up soon, so those should be my first contacts. If you don’t have any time sensitive follow-up, just start working through the pile.
4. When making initial contact, remind the recipient of how you met and what you talked about. One year I took a photo of my Designer Table and included it in my follow-up emails. This helped manufacturers and publishers remember who I was.
5. Give them the information they asked for. Be sure to include multiple ways they can contact you. Be specific about what action you are asking them to take and be sure to include your contact information.
6. Give a date about when you will contact them next. End your initial contact with a line like, “I know you are probably busy post-show. If I don’t hear back from you by next month, I’ll give you a call.” In some cases this will give them an opportunity to request that you no longer contact them-which is okay. You don’t want to spend valuable time chasing a cold lead. In other cases they will appreciate knowing that you won’t pester them, but will keep on top of the communication and follow-up.
7. Sometimes leads don’t lead to anything. Ask your contact person if they would like to sign-up for your newsletter or if you can stay in touch on social media. You would be surprised by how many leads can take years before something comes of it.
8. When you do get a bite, be sure to complete your follow-up. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!