Last month I talked about conference season and this month I want to cover the most important, and most often overlooked, part of attending supplier diversity conferences: follow up.
There was a ton of energy at the WBENC conference driven by new energy and increased commitments to supplier diversity. It is difficult to maintain that energy when both supplier diversity folks and business owners get back to the daily demands of the office. At Diversity Masterminds® we bust this myth with the reality of supplier diversity roles but it’s hard for business owners as well.
In order to stay on track with follow up, you have to keep your energy up from those very first interactions that seemed so promising. I have a few tips for how business owners can do this.
- Start the follow up before you go. How can you follow up before you even leave? The key to this is actually setting aside the time to follow up before you go. When you buy your plane ticket, make your hotel reservation, and block off the time on your calendar, also take the time to block off time after the conference to actually do the follow up.
- Make a personal connection. In order to make a personal connection, it’s important to take good notes so you can refer back to them. Note the difference between these two emails:
Good follow up email
It was great to see you at the WBENC conference. 12PointFive is a business development consultancy that puts MWBEs, DOBEs, LGBTBEs, and VOBs on the right track to making meaningful relationships within the supplier diversity network, have more productive conversations, and win new business. I’d love to chat with you about how we can help you make the most of your certification!
Better follow up email
It was great to meet you at the WBENC Conference! I hope you were able to make it back in time for your nephew’s graduation. When we were both at the Walmart meet and greet you mentioned that it was a full time job to just get ready for the conference. I agree with you! We talked a bit about how my company helps busy business owners like you to get on the right track to making meaningful relationships within the supplier diversity network. I’d love to learn more about the specific challenges you are having and how 12PointFive can solve them.
3. Think long term. Do the follow up in a reasonable timeframe after the conference but don’t despair if it doesn’t happen right away. Looking at the image again, remember that everyone is travelling home, receiving hundreds of emails, and preparing for the next trip, project, or supplier conference. It may take two, three, or more emails (or phone calls, or whatever method they prefer) before you get a response. Keep your follow up consistent and on point and finally –
4. Make sure you are alluding to the problems that you solve. If you don’t get a response right away, continue your market research along with your follow up so that you are responding to problems you know your client still has. They will either tell you or you’ll know because you’re consistently doing research on your targets.
I talked to a bunch of people for whom this was their first conference, or their first in a long time. You’ll have more opportunities to use these tips from the beginning and prepare before, during, and after the conferences. And, if you need any help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Between Diversity Masterminds® and 12PointFive, we’ve got you covered.