Maximize Your Conference Visit: The Real Work Is in the Follow-Up

VP K12 Computer Science Products, EMC School

This is the third of a three-part series on conferences. In my first post I covered how startups can decide whether to go or not to go to a conference. In my second post, I provided a roadmap to surviving the madness of the conference itself. This post is how to get the most out of a conference. 

Maximizing Your ROI

Its for you!
Its for you!

You allocated precious time and spent the money to attend a conference. You had lots of great conversations and are exhausted, ready for some comp time to recover. But there’s no time to rest because the real work is in the follow-up!

Tips That Work

  • Keep at least two days blocked off on your calendar for post-conference follow-up.
  • Follow your leads on social media. Connecting with people in ways other than email and phone is highly effective.
  • Write a blog about a great presentation you attended at the conference, a standout product you saw, or other conference highlights.
  • Especially if you attended presentations, organize your notes. Some categories include: 1) next steps, 2) key learnings, 3) meeting details, and 4) session notes.
  • Connect with your new acquaintances on LinkedIn, and make sure you are already connected to long-time colleagues whom you met with or ran into at the conference.
  • Sort the business cards you collected into categories such as: Buyer, Influencer, Marginal, and Unhelpful
  • Use a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Zoho to track lead touch points. Set up lists of leads and monitor actions they take as they move through your sales funnel.

General Advice

  • Every single lead must be contacted—at least seven times. In fact, we don’t stop until we get a “no.” You’re not bugging anyone by following up. They probably haven’t read at least half of your emails or listened to your voicemails, so keep at it until a lead actually unsubscribes.
  • Use different follow-up strategies for hot, medium, and cold leads.
  • Use a combination of email, phone calls, social media, snail mail (yes, we’ve found the regular mail to be effective!), and any other methods that get a response.
  • Don’t spam people with annoying bulk emails. Personalize your followups and your response rates will increase.
  • Keep track of your results. Use this information to inform your decision the next time you can’t figure out whether “to go or not to go.”

Generating trade show leads is hard work. If you don’t follow up, all of that hard work (including your money and time) is lost. No excuses!

More Tips?

Let me (and our readers) know if you have more hot conference tips. Thanks!

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Image by flickr user Dave Dugdale, licensed under Creative Commons

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