If you think that networking is about attending conferences and workshops, you're only partly right. Networking isn't just about attending events. It's about the networking that comes before and after the event as well. How can you connect with your new contacts to make all the event networking that you did "stick" over the long term? Here are some tips.
What To Do After a Conference
As the Harvard Business Review points out, the first thing that comes to most peoples' minds after a conference is "catch-up mode; the last thing on your mind is following up with the people you just met." However, even though you need to get caught up, the highest-impact choice you can make is to do just a bit more networking. Showing that you're the kind of person who follows up will solidify the networking gains that you made during the conference.
After a conference, instead of focusing exclusively on meetings to catch up on the things you missed, make sure that you designate time to follow up on the connections that you made. Think of this time as some of the most important "meeting time" of your next week – the second half of your conference, if you will.
Use Social Media to Follow Up
One terrific benefit of social media is that it can be used to do a soft follow up or to follow up with new contacts in a more individual message. If you have collected cards or information about people who interest you but who may not be an immediate connection for your business, connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter, or like their company on Facebook.
That way, you can stay apprised of what they are doing, and you might be able to connect in a more specific way in the future. You can also begin to look at and share some of the material that they post on social media, becoming partners in promotion by retweeting their Twitter posts, for instance.
If you've connected with someone at a conference and want to reach out with them on a more personal level, you can also use social media to connect with a question or as a way to inquire about the possibility of a call or an in-person meetup.
Social media enables you to become a connection point between two people or organizations. If you have been working with a company or a community organization that might benefit from a connection that you made at the conference, connecting those two organizations online could benefit both of them and will position you as an influencer in that relationship. Each group is likely to look at you more favorably in the future since you develop a reputation as a social connector.
If your goal in attending a conference is to develop new leads, have a process for reaching out to those leads and looping them into your system. This could be done with an email sign up that links people to your social media accounts, through a note encouraging them to join a contest, or by sharing an experience or a story.
If you see conferences as a way to gather new leads, be sure to track the ROI that you get on leads that you gather at them. That way, you'll be able to assess if this aspect of your plan for insurance marketing strategy is paying off.
Plan Ahead for Conference Success
It's also useful to reflect on your goals for future conferences. Is your goal to create a few important relationships that might be useful to your insurance agency as a whole and to invest more time into those relationships by building them on social media and offline? Or is your goal that of building your list of social media followers, with the idea that the conference may generate fruitful leads for your insurance business? Your approach to lead-gathering and follow-up can be tailored to each of those different scenarios.
Are you ready to improve your insurance marketing and your insurance network? Contact us at American Agents Alliance. We'll help you increase your insurance agency's capacity with our numerous membership benefits.