How I Put My Networking on Steroids
Anyone who knows me knows I’m serious about networking. I depend on it to generate leads, qualify the new contacts I make, and grow my business. Sales is the fuel that keeps everything else running. But a while back, I ran into a problem.
- I couldn’t keep up with the number of business cards I was collecting. (You know the problem. They just procreate on the desk.)
- I wasn’t following up effectively with the contacts that did make it into my system. (This defeats the whole purpose of networking, right?)
- My lead stream was beginning to shrink. (Shrinkage!? How horrible?)
This was a VERY big problem for me and one I made a point of addressing before it became an issue. I decided to find or define a more effective way to follow up with my new contacts and reduce the work required by my team and me to implement it.
It took some trial and error. What I’m showing here is my current “best practice” which is the result of a lot of experimentation. I think you’ll find that the solution works nicely and is something that’s very doable by any sales personnel or business owner.
Networking for me starts when I'm attending a networking event and collecting business cards. I strike up a conversation. We chat. I learn something about them. We exchange business cards.
Because I build websites and run Internet marketing campaigns, I don't have to be very discriminating. Anyone can use my services. The process I describe can be adjusted accordingly to meet just about anyone’s needs.
In the old days, I would write them a “hello” email message reminding them where we met. I would send them a handwritten note. If you count my first encounter with them at the networking event, the email message, and notecard I sent them, I "touched" them three times.
I would then add them to my email list so they would receive my monthly blog message. In blog articles like this one, I showcase some aspect of the services I provide. Once a month, these new contacts and old ones get an email message with a link to the article on my site.
My biggest problem was the amount of time it would take me. I had to enter their contact information into my email system, accurately I might add, write them an email, handwrite the note, and mail it. The even bigger problem is that the three touches this process provides from me, as time consuming as they may be, is minimal. Read any sales book and you know it takes 8, 12, and even more touches to complete a sale.
So here is my current process.
Step One – Scan the business card with my phone app.
Forget manually entering business cards. I discovered this Infusionsoft Snap phone app, an app that comes with the Infusionsoft CRM, that I use to take a picture of the card. This is NOT an app that scans and uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology. I tested solutions like CardScan and it takes as much time for me to check the results of the scan as it did to type the information in myself.
This Infusionsoft Snap app includes a human checker, I think in the Philippines, that takes what is scanned in and confirms it matches what is on the card. I don’t know how they do it but it’s 100% accurate every time. The app notifies you about in an hour or two when the card is done.
Step Two – Introducing myself to them.
When the card is ready, I approve it for uploading into Infusionsoft. This includes tagging them in the phone app so Infusionsoft knows what to do next. That kicks off what happens next.
In my case, Infusionsoft assigns me a task which tells me to write a short introductory paragraph for the first email the contact gets sent. The task provides me with a form where I enter something like,
“It was so good meeting you at the xxx event the other day. What did you think about that speaker? Let me know how I can be of help to you and your business.”
I can get as elegant and specific as I want depending upon the interaction I had with the contact. The Infusionsoft campaign I have set up, takes my intro paragraph, concatenates it with copy I have written introducing myself, my business, and the services I provide. This automatically goes out to them via email.
I could take another step, but I haven't. I could have the system automatically send them a note card from me like I did before using that same introductory message I wrote. If you want to go all the way, you can enter your personal signature and add a few other niceties. If you do this, they get the email right away and a few days later they get the note card in the mail.
There are several other steps I take in my networking and I'll be sharing that with you in my next post.