Conferences are one of the best ways to add new people to your network—but simply interacting with conference attendees isn’t enough to make a lasting connection. Getting the individual's business card is a great start, but if you don't take the time to connect, the people you met are going to forget all about you and your firm.
The steps you take after a conference to secure relationships and grow your network can be just as important as what you do at the event—so don’t leave them out of your legal marketing strategy!
Here’s a step-by-step guide for connecting, engaging, and building lasting relationships after a conference:
1. Write Yourself a Note
While at the conference, jot down notes about each individual you meet after you’re done with the conversation. This practice helps ensure you remember who they are and what you discussed, and it allows you to draft a more personalized message after the event.
Write down what the person looked like and where you were when you talked. You should also list one or two things you’d like to follow up with them about. Sending the contact a handwritten card after the event adds a more personalized and sincere touch. You can use services such as Handwrytten or Bond to create messages in templated text and send them straight from your phone. These messages are designed to look like handwritten notes.
2. Connect on Social Media
Before sending a handwritten note or email to the individual you met, search for them on LinkedIn or another social media platform. While you may not want to personally friend them on Facebook or follow their Instagram account, sending a professional request through LinkedIn or their professional Twitter account is a great way to refresh the acquaintance. Make sure you personalize your invitation to connect rather than using the default message generated by the platform. Often, a direct message (DM) on social media can get you a response when an email would get ignored.
3. Reach Out to the Right Individuals at the Right Time
Remember that you don’t need to reach out to everyone you met. In order to build strong relationships, you should make each message as customized to the individual as possible. This takes time. Prioritize the people you’d like to connect with in order of importance, and then contact those at the top of your list first.
Also, consider the timing of your message. You’ll want to reach out soon after the event has ended, but not so soon that your contact is still traveling or trying to settle back into work. About 3 to 4 days after the event is a good time to connect.
When you do reach out, remember to always offer value. End your message with “How can I help you?” or “I’m happy to connect you with anyone in my network, if you’re interested.” When you have an attitude of helpfulness, your contact will be more likely to see you as a valuable resource and want to continue the relationship—or even better, help you in return!
4. Send Thank You Notes
If someone joined you for dinner, bought you coffee, or saved you a seat during a keynote speech, send them a note or message thanking them for helping you out—even if the action seemed small. People like to feel like they did a good deed, and they like to be recognized. Sending someone a thank you message will only take a few moments out of your day, but it will make a lasting impression and can provide a great opportunity to get a conversation going.
5. Provide Feedback
Speakers and conference hosts are always looking for feedback on what they did well or what they can improve. If you have some feedback, don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know—but always try to be as respectful as possible. Providing truly helpful feedback is a great way to stay memorable.
6. Share Your Experience
After the conference, there will probably be many people looking for more information about what happened, who was there, and what was said. Fill that information gap by blogging about your experience at the event or posting about it on social media. Whether you’re reaching conference attendees who want to know what they missed in other conference rooms or individuals who couldn’t make it, sharing your experience online can give them a new perspective and spark conversation. Blogging and posting about the event also boosts your firm’s exposure and can even drive more visitors to your website.
7. Invite Your Contacts to Subscribe
After you make your initial connections, try to keep the momentum going by inviting your contacts to subscribe to your newsletter or blog. This helps you stay in touch and keeps you on your contacts’ minds without requiring a personal message for each touchpoint.
While you don’t want to be too pushy about getting someone to sign up for your content, you should bring its value to their attention. Avoid appearing as if you’re trying to sell them something. Instead, let them know how your content can benefit them. If they say they’re not interested, don’t push it.
8. Schedule Follow-Ups
If you find you hit it off especially well with a contact or you’ve identified someone who could potentially be a high-value contact, don’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up conversation or meeting. Setting a plan for a specific day and time will help ensure the conversation or meeting actually happens, rather than just saying you’ll connect “soon.” By taking that extra step, you may end up with a new client, referral, or professional opportunity that you would have otherwise missed.
Remember, when it comes to your connections, you get what you put into them. Networking the right way takes time and energy, but it’s crucial for growing your law firm. Follow the 8 tips above after a conference or event to get the most out of the connections and strengthen your legal marketing!
Photo: I AM NIKOM / Shutterstock.com
Thomas Wallin is an attorney, as well as a legal marketing consultant for Scorpion. He helps guide strategy for Scorpion’s legal clients, working to bring them more exposure and high-value cases from the Internet. He also speaks at numerous conferences, teaching attorneys best practices in legal digital marketing.
Thomas has a successful personal injury law firm and has been recognized as one of the most respected litigators in Southern California. He has been named among the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by The National Trial Lawyers, as well as the “Best Attorneys in the County” by Orange County Magazine. When he is not working, Thomas enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and traveling.