Have you ever met someone at a coffee shop, job fair, party, social event, or fundraiser? You have a great conversation, find a couple of commonalities, and then find yourself putting their business card in a drawer somewhere only to be found when you do your big annual desk cleanout?
Once you’ve met someone, what do you do to keep in contact?
If the answer is nothing, then you might as well call yourself a professional card collector. You probably have 3 or 4 rubber banded “collections” of cards from past events, meetings, and chance meetups. And you’re keeping these because, hey, you never know when you might need their information. Sound familiar?
There is a better way.
First, when you meet someone and exchange business cards, jot a couple notes down on the back of the card that identify this persons’ desires, goals, kids’ names, or any other piece of information you gleaned from the conversation. One of the things that most impresses another person is a personal detail or two that is brought back up in conversation at a later date. Imagine the power of meeting a potential employer at a job fair and then sending a thank-you note with their daughters’ name in it. Totally puts you in a different category than the other people they met the same day.
Second, keep all of your cards in one place and once a week enter ALL of them into a database. You can use Excel, Numbers, ACT!, or any other CRM system (Customer Relationship Manager).
My preference is to enter all of my new contacts into Google Contacts. This does three things for me:
I can access their information from any computer with an internet connection.
I can sync the information in Google Contacts with my phone so I have them with me almost constantly.
I can export the list as a .csv file to import into a mail system.
Now that all of your contacts are in Google Contacts, the next step is to get all of these contacts into a mail delivery program so that you can write one email and send it out to everyone on your list. My favorite service for this is www.MailChimp.com. MailChimp is a great tool as it’s incredibly easy to use, is FREE for under 2,000 contacts, and the deliverability of the emails is really high (meaning they won’t get caught up in spam filters).
Again, the reason you’re doing these steps is to make sure that the people you meet remember you. So, to make sure that they remember you, 2-4 times a year send the entire list an email that does a few things:
It summarizes what you’ve been up to over the past 3-6 months
It has a couple of links to articles that you’ve read that you think are valuable
It offers assistance to them in any way you might be of service
It asks for potential contacts to someone you’d like to meet, work for, have coffee with, etc.
The email may look something like this:
Dear <First Name>,
I wanted to shoot you an email letting you know how much I value keeping in touch with you and to send along a couple of articles that I thought you might find interesting.
This is the second semester of my senior year at Kick Ass University. I’m excited about my prospects after graduation as I just spent the past 12 weeks interning at Cool Company, and I learned that what I most enjoyed was marketing/sales/finance/accounting/grunt work. I’ve decided that the industries I’m most interested in are plastics and wind energy and will be looking for a job after graduation in one of these industries. (If you know of anyone I should meet, I would do backflips for an introduction.)
As a means of continuously offering value to our relationship, I’m sending a couple of links to articles that I read recently. The first link is all about time management and is by one of the leaders in the field, David Allen. The second link is an interesting look at the Art of Smiling, something we could all do more of!
If there’s anything I can ever do for you, please feel free to contact me anytime! Thanks so much for your time, <First Name>, I really appreciate knowing you.
As you can see, the email doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. The above example is simple, direct, and to the point. It offers value in the articles, asks for contacts, and lets people know what you’ve been up to.
Where the example lists <First Name>, this is a feature in MailChimp that allows you to customize the email to whomever you’re sending it to. Now you can blast 200 emails in one fell swoop and have every email have the recipients name within the body of the email.
Super simple. Super efficient.
Too much info? Let me boil it down to the ridiculous:
Put biz card info into a spreadsheet
Import spreadsheet into MailChimp
Send an email 2-4 times a year to everyone
Laugh at your friends who can’t score a job while you have multiple offers
Easy, cheesy, lemon-squeezee.