The ISSA Show Is Over—Now What?

Follow these tips for cultivating business relationships from show contacts

Follow Up

Although they can be a critical part of an organization’s success strategy, shows and conventions—like the recent ISSA Show North America 2022 held in Chicago—often consume an enormous amount of upfront planning, time, and expense. Far too often, attendees fall short on the after-event follow-up. This lack of action is a significant flaw, as success is based on turning contacts and opportunities found at the show into relationships and sales.

Create a follow-up plan

Returning from a convention can feel overwhelming since business doesn’t pause when you’re out of the office. Even though you’ll be busy going through voicemail messages and email inboxes and “putting out fires” in terms of business issues that came up when you were gone, it’s valuable to set aside some time to follow up with fellow show attendees.

One successful follow-up strategy begins by assigning the contacts you met at the show one of three colors (red, yellow, and green for the purposes of this example, but any three identifiers will work). For the green list, include all the first-priority opportunities you encountered, such as someone you connected well with or a person with an urgent tie-in to green cleaning.

Because the green list is the highest priority, make sure to record any important information before you forget it. This can be as simple as what business issues your contact expressed the most interest in or any personal information they shared, such as if they have kids or follow a specific sports team. Since business in the cleaning industry is about relationships, unless you have a perfect memory, write this information down or put it in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

At the other end of the spectrum is the red list, which is made up of the contacts deemed unnecessary for follow-up. No doubt you graciously accepted a business card from someone even though you had no interest in connecting further with them. While inputting these contacts into a CMR tool might be valuable, these are the ones to put aside and only pursue if you have the time and energy to do so.

Finally, the yellow list contains the contacts that didn’t make the other two lists. While not a top priority like those on the green list, they are too important to be dismissed like those on the red list.

Focus on green

Send an email to your contacts on the green list as soon as possible. Even if the show has been over for a few weeks, it’s not too late to send a quick email to keep the relationship warm. This email can be as simple as “I really enjoyed meeting you in Chicago and will be following up with a little more information shortly.” Include any personal tidbits such as their interest in sports by hypothetically adding “Go Bears” or something similar. Again, it is about cultivating relationships to ultimately build a business connection. Send contacts on your green list pertinent information to keep moving the business relationship forward. You might also want to follow up your email with a telephone call.

Remember, not every prospect has the same value. For your best chance at success, don’t leave the show follow-up to chance. Plan your follow-up strategy, focus on the green list, and get it done.

Stephen P. Ashkin

President, The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected].

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