Did you just get home from SXSW? If you burned the candle at both ends and got the most out of SXSW, then you left Austin with a slew of new connections, strengthened existing relationships and had a lot of fun. What a marathon. Panels and meetings all day, networking and parties all night, rinse, repeat. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it because of the connections you’re building. Where most conferences focus on big product launches, SXSW is about the personal connections and networking. To quote something Annette Shade tweeted during the 2011 South By Southwest Interactive conference, “CES is to products what SXSW is to relationships.” She’s right. You should to move quickly, and within the next few days you should to organize your new connections and create a solid foundation to enable these valuable new relationships to grow.
Original pioneers of NBC News’ social media presence; Jon Accarrino, Jim Long and Frank Radice
1) Organize Your New Contacts
You probably came home with a sizeable stack of business cards even if you use a digital networking app like Addieu or Hashable. If you haven’t heard of these apps yet, don’t worry, I’ll cover that later in the article. Right now just group all your contacts and cards, physical and virtual, into the following buckets:
Bucket #1: Business Opps
• Business Opportunities
• Sales Leads
• Potential Business Partners
• People You’d Want to Work With or Hire
Bucket #2: Influencers
• Bloggers, Super Socials & Podcasters
• Industry Mentors
Bucket #3: Expanding Your Network
• Colorful People to Have at Parties
Bucket #4: Trash
• People who scare you
2) Take Out The Trash
Did you get a business card from someone who threw up in the hotel elevator, sprayed business cards around the convention floor like a lawn sprinkler, proclaimed themselves to be a “Social Media Guru” or just came to the conference for the free food and drinks? You’re probably not going to do business with these people. Toss their physical business cards in the trash and don’t worry about any of the digital connections you made using apps like Hashable. They will fade away with time.
3) Scribble Some Notes
Take some notes while everything is still fresh in your mind. That will help prevent you from finding that “mystery business card” that you don’t remember on your desk in a few months. If you are a “paper person,” then grab a pen, flip over any business cards and add write a few notes on the back like: met at CNN Grill at #SXSW 2011, her favorite beer = Fireman’s 4, had dinner at Vince Young Steakhouse, etc...
If you’re a “digital person,” then add everyone to your address book and write these notes in the notes field.
4) Carpe Diem
Did you leave SXSW with a hot lead or press opportunity? If you feel you have a real and immediate business opportunity, then act on it. A lot of times, people come to conferences looking to do business pretty quickly. Seize the moment, just don’t get overzealous. There’s nothing more annoying than having your entire team harass someone you just met with phone calls and emails. That’s a sure way to sever a relationship. Assign either yourself (ideal) or one person in your organization to follow up.
5) Socially Connect
For potential or future business opportunities, you should take a much softer approach. Social media can be a powerful business tool when used properly.
Follow everyone in Buckets 1, 2 and 3 on Twitter and send a connect request on LinkedIn. Then, use a grouping solution like Twitter Lists or Hootsuite to create a listening dashboard. Create one big SXSW list with everyone or break it down into smaller groups like the sub bullets listed in the bucket above.
Now that you are listening, it’s time to say something. Maybe follow up with a quick tweet. You both just attended a conference and have something in common to talk about. Not sure what to say? You know all those pictures and video you took on your camera phone? Every piece of media can be a valuable conversation starter and help you strengthen a relationship. Email or tweet your top SXSW connections a photo from an event you both attended, a link to something that you both talked about, or a relevant SXSW blog post... Like this one. :) For the next few months, monitor and engage your new connections when appropriate.
You might have noticed that I left out Facebook. Do not send a friend request to a business prospect on Facebook. Although some people use Facebook for networking, that’s not really what it’s meant for. Facebook is for real “friends.” Unless you know the name of their family dog or have been on a double date with the person, then you probably aren’t really “friends.” A Facebook friend request for someone you barely know can actually be a little creepy. When in doubt, wait. Start with LinkedIn and Twitter and send that Facebook friend request when your relationship is a little stronger and it feels right.
6) Go Paperless Next Time
Do you have a smartphone? If you haven’t already, go download a professional networking app like Hashable or Addieu.
Addieu will quickly exchange digital business cards with someone and automatically follow the person you are connecting with on a variety of platforms.
Hashable will exchange cards and follow new contatcs like Addieu, but Hashable will also track your connections and automatically build out your personal network over time. It’s my personal favorite. Every time you meet someone you want to “connect” with, you just select what type of meeting it is (#lunch, #justmet, #beers, etc.) and type in either their name, twitter handle, or email address.
Hashable will even check you in on Foursquare or post a tweet about your meeting if you want. As a result, you get a next generation address book that not only organizes contact info but the engagement and strength of that relationship. Plus less business cards means less data entry work for you, and it even saves some trees.
So there you have it, 6 ways to get all your contacts organized so they can grow. Hope you found this blog post useful. Let’s grab #beers next year at SXSW! @Definition6’s treat!