How To Follow-Up With All Those Contacts

Jim Luff
Posted on March 21, 2018

Collecting and Marking Cards

Getting a business card from every person you meet should be a top goal at any trade show. Networking grows your business. Perhaps the most common technique for remembering people is to write notes on the back of their cards. Don’t use a regular pen. Grab a Sharpie because today’s glossy business cards that dominate our industry are nearly impossible to write on with a pen. Don’t just accept the card but take the time to look at the details on it. It signals the person giving the card you are interested. If the city name is missing, write it on the card. If you shared a meal, a cocktail, attended the same session, or had another memorable moment, write it on the card. Notes will make it easy for you to recall such memories and conversations.

Let’s Take A Selfie

One tool you have with you at all times is your cell phone. “Selfies” have become a normal and common thing, so don’t be shy about asking someone to take a photo with you. Make it fun. Don’t feel awkward and be forthright in telling them why you want the photo. The secret is, make sure you get them to hold their badge up in the photo so their name, company name, and city is visible in the photo. A photo makes it easy to remember the person.

Mapping It Out

As you collect business cards, on the corner of each card use a single letter code to rate how important the lead is to you. As an example, the letter “H” signals a hot lead you need to follow up on quickly. A “W” indicates the card is a warm lead with possible future business. A “T” is a card you can toss with no chance of doing business together, but don’t be too hasty with the Ts. Once you have followed-up, map your new contact by adding them to a spreadsheet with all your affiliates, installing a push-pin on an electronic map, or writing it on a paper map. Make sure you track the locations of your new contacts and how they might help you in the future. Separate potential affiliates and vendors.

Follow-Up Emails & Calls

As soon as practically possible, email your new contacts. Refer to your meeting such as, “I enjoyed sitting with you in the marketing session.” Remind them again of what city you serve and the vehicles you offer, and provide your personal cell number. You can create a form letter and copy and paste it for each person you met, but try to slightly personalize each letter so the person remembers you.  End your email with a promise to call by phone in the next few weeks.

While emails are good first steps, nothing is better than a phone call. If you received no response to your follow-up email, use that as an excuse for calling to ask if they received it. Remind your new contact how you met, where you are, and that you would like to stay in touch. Avoid saying you are looking for their business. Affiliate connections are built on relationships, and this call starts yours. Speak to someone as you would any new friend intead of sounding like a used car salesman trying to drum up business.

Three Steps to Max Your Follow-Through

Develop The Relationship

New relationships must be nurtured. As you might do with a new friend, add your new business contact to your social media accounts. Search for them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram. Reaching out by social media helps build a friendship and topics to talk about during your next call. Schedule a call on your calendar every 90 days and especially a week before the next trade show. See if they are attending the show and schedule a lunch, dinner, coffee, or cocktails to keep developing the relationship. New business will emerge.


Make sure whenever you have a job to farm out you send work to your new friends when possible. You must work on developing a two-way relationship. If you will never have work to send to a tiny city like Kalispell, Montana, you can still nurture the relationship during your 90 day follow-up calls by sharing a tidbit of information you have heard about the industry that might help a fellow operator.

Be Respectful

Remember during your follow-up calls and emails that everyone else is doing the same thing so it increases the call volume for everyone. When you call by phone, always preface your call by asking, “Is this a good time to chat?” If they tell you it’s not a good time, let them know you were just calling to chit chat and stay in touch. Offer your number and ask them to call back when they have a moment.

Great Ideas provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? You can reach LCT contributing editor and California operator Jim Luff at [email protected]

Related Topics: business management, casinos, hotels, ILCT, ILCT 2018, Las Vegas, limo tradeshows, Mandalay Bay, National Limousine Association, networking, NLA, tradeshow preparation, tradeshows

Jim Luff General Manager
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