Do you regularly attend networking events? Do you have a system for processing the names and business cards you gather to quickly follow-up with new contacts?

New to my market, I’ve made it a goal to get out of the office once a week to meet and mingle.

When attending networking events with the goal of driving sales, your strategy is to meet and gather business cards from potential clients and those who may be able to generate leads for you.

While I have a contact management system, I did not have a formal process for filtering and categorizing the cards before I put them into that system.

Brushing up on my networking skills, I picked up a copy of Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches by C.J. Hayden. Among many other strategies and tools, C.J. outlines a simple method to manage gathered business cards.

Inspired by C.J.’s process and the paper placemats used in wine tastings I created a “Networking Follow-Up Guide.” A one-page “placemat” (pictured below) to print out and use to sort business card piles into actionable categories.

I’ve linked the Networking Follow-Up Guide (PDF, 23kb) for you.

Summary: Following Up With Contacts

Here is a quick overview of the process C.J. outlines in the book. (You’ll find more detail on the print-out, and in the book).

(1) Sort your business cards into three piles:

  • Prospective Clients,
  • Useful Networking Contacts, and
  • Other.

(2) Next, subdivide the Prospective Clients pile into: Hot, Warm, and Cool leads. The Hot leads are those who already indicated they need you. The Warm, those who mentioned a problem or goal you know you can help with. The rest would be Cool.

C.J. recommends you stop sorting and immediately follow up with the Hot and Warm leads.

(3) Then, split the Useful Networking Clients pile into (a) those who could directly lead you to prospective clients, and (b) those who may lead you to potential marketing opportunities (speaking gigs, networking events).

Again, she suggests follow-up right then and there. This time, with those who may have leads for you. Your goal among these contacts is to build an ongoing give-and-take relationship.

I provide detail for each of these steps (and more) on the sheet.

(3) A real ah-ha! moment for me was in C.J.’s final step. After review and follow-up – including the Cool Leads and Marketing Opportunities – you’ll still have your pile of “Other” cards. Her smart advice: “Unless they belong to people you would like to have a personal friendship with now, throw them away. If they aren’t worth following up with now, they don’t belong in your contact management system.” Such smart advice. Why waste your time? Why waste their time?

I hope you find the one-pager helpful. It helps me manage new contacts, and act to get new clients.

It is clear, I recommend Get Clients Now! . C.J. not only does a great job helping build a comprehensive ‘new client’ strategy, she also provides details on how to implement the tactics and tasks – a great book.