By Kevin D. Johnson, Jr.

Trade shows are great places to find out what’s new in your industry, learn about new services to advance your company, and gain new clients. Whatever your trade show goal, networking is key to making it happen.  Making connections with potential clients, partners and investors, and cementing relationships with existing customers is the name of the game at a trade show.

But making these connections is just the first step in getting the best out of your trade show experiences. What good does it do to exert energy networking at a trade show if you don’t follow up? If you stop at this stage and don’t take any follow-up steps, you’re simply wasting time.

Here are four steps you can take to position your company better and follow up for success.

  1. When you meet someone new, make a note on the person’s business cards or on your phone that you can reference in your introduction email later. It can be something small—for example, iI you made a remark about someone having a nice wedding ring, write that down and allude to that in your email.  Believe it or not, so many people never even send an email after meeting a possible business connection. Sending an email and bringing up the wedding ring will help that person remember who you are, which can form a human connection. Add information about your company and how you can help them, and attempt to connect with them on LinkedIn.
  2. After the trade show, add your new contacts to your database or Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). The memorable part of the conversation should also be noted such as the wedding ring, where you met them (event/location) and the year that you met them. The timeframe and location are important for your future marketing efforts. With the heavy influx of emails that people receive daily, it’s easy for your email to get lost among other marketing emails.  Two years from now, your company might have a new website that you would like to promote. Adding specifics about how you know the person in the subject line can be the difference between getting your email deleted or opened.
  3. Explore new technological integration for events, such as apps. Not only do trade show apps allow you to keep abreast of what’s going on at the event, such as the schedule of guest speakers and location of exhibitors, but they also allow the conversation to continue once the conference has concluded. There are some trade show apps that operate just as a social networking site does. You follow people and post content. This allows you to learn more about the people who attended the conference.  Perhaps you can connect with people you didn’t meet in person at the event, but you think you should know, or who should know about your product or service.
  4. Feel like you don’t have enough time to effectively follow up and also handle day-to-day operations? You can do it; it just requires good time management. One method is to designate a certain time of each day to following up until you have worked through all the new contacts. Another approach is to work on it during off hours such as at night or on weekends.

Making the most out of opportunities such as networking events can be just the boost needed to elevate your business. Going the extra mile to follow up on the connections you make will get take your business a long way—so make the time.

Kevin D. Johnson, Jr. is CEO of NorthStarr Media Group. Follow him at @northstarrmedia.