Networking and Contact Management

Small Business Tips | April 27th 2010

It’s 1:45pm in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Jeff heads to 88 Orchard, grabs an English tea, pops open his MacBook and starts sketching drafts for his design portfolio.

“Wow, that looks really cool!” The voice came from behind him.  “Did you do all of that?”

“Well… yeah,” Jeff responds modestly, “I’m a designer…  freelance…  Just finishing my personal site.”

He turns around to see Sarah.  Her table is littered with press packets and media kits. She tears a square from the bottom-corner of a coffee-stained notebook and replies, “You know, I’ve been looking for a designer for months!  Let’s exchange information, I bet you can help me on this project!”


Networking

Networking
Although we invest a lot of time branding ourselves online, some of the best relationships are built in person.  In business, it’s essential to continuously meet people in your field.   The more people you meet, the more your resources expand.

Be old fashioned.  It’s ok to carry business cards and trade them in appropriate situations.  In fact, business cards can help your creativity stand out!  Take a look at this list: 42 Awesome Business Card Designs.

Your business card should clearly state 3 things: name, profession and email address.

contact

Here are some other details you can include: company name, phone number, business address, website, personal blog, linkedin/ twitter/facebook accounts and… fax number (stop laughing).

Contact Management
Once you have collected a few cards, you should begin a contact management system.  This will help you easily reference your contacts down the line.

There are many ways to do this, but here’s a simple solution.  Retype all of your contacts into an excel spreadsheet with the following columns: Date, Event, First Name, Last Name, City, State, Office #, Mobile #, Company, Title, Website, Email, Twitter, Profession, Category and Notes.

Date and Event help you organize contacts chronologically.  Jeff would write “April 27th, 2010 >> 88 Orchard, Internet Café”

Category helps you identify if the person is a hot lead, future lead, potential partner, advisor or something else.  Jeff would identify Sarah as a “hot lead.”

Notes will give you a point of reference to remember the contact in the future.  Jeff would write something he noticed such as: “Scattered marketing material.”

Creating a Marketing Funnel
Once you’ve cataloged the contact information, you can begin your marketing funnel.  A marketing funnel allows you to multiply your income by marketing your products and services to sales leads.

Marketing Funnel

Step 1:  Send a follow up email
Send an email to your potential lead within 2 – 4 business days after meeting (or after a conference is over).  The message should be very short and direct.  Jeff would write:

Hey Sarah,
Nice to meet you at the 88 Orchard the other day.  I’d love to help you with your next project.  Let’s keep in touch.
Best,
Jeff
Jeff-Designs.com
@jeff-designs

Sarah will most likely respond in the same fashion.

Step 2: Frequency
Create a monthly newsletter about your business.  Send it on the same day every month; this repetition will have contacts expecting your update.  In the newsletter, include your recent accomplishments, completed projects and blog posts.  Also include links to your social networks.  The goal is to stay top-of-mind.

The truth is, a potential client might not read your newsletter at all.  They might hit “mark as read” every time it comes in!  But as soon as they’re in the market to hire someone in your field, everything will click.  Sarah will think, “Oh!  There’s a designer who I met… Yeah, he sends me emails every month.  I’ll take a look at his work and set up a meeting!”

Step 3: Meeting
When you get to this point, your marketing funnel has been successful.  Your client is in the mind to buy and (hopefully) you’re “it”…  Nice job and good luck!


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