Last week I broke down my step-by-step tips for how to network and pitch while at conferences, events, and talks. No matter what line of business you’re in, there’s always people to pitch who can help your business or with whom you can create mutually beneficial partnerships. But let’s say you’re just back from a conference, or even better, about to go to one. After you’ve gotten the pitches right, and met all the right people, how can you best make sure you nail the follow-ups to your benefit?
Enter the cloud. There are a variety of cloud-based technologies that can help you manage the data you’re taking in during these events and help you sort it back out when you’re done. While you may have little more than a smartphone with you when you’re interacting with people at these events, using the cloud you can automatically sync everything that comes in with your desktop computer back home. Today I’m going to take a look at some of my favorite ways to use the cloud to make sure you capture all of the data from an event and turn that into an actionable plan for you to work from.
1. Put Business Cards in the Cloud
Every day you’ll be grabbing (and, hopefully, handing out) dozens of business cards from potential partners, potential clients, or even just people you’d like to see again. But by the time you’re back in your hotel at the end of the day, never mind by the time the conference is over, you will surely have forgotten why you took some of those business cards and all will be for naught.
If you’ve already standardized your personal note-taking on Evernote like I have then the best option would be to use Evernote Hello. Far more than just a place to capture business cards, Hello captures people, interactions, notes, meetings, and helps you build a rich history of when you’ve seen someone before and what you discussed. This way, when you run into someone at a conference, you’ll know exactly what you discussed the last time you saw them.
The only thing I’d remind you to do is to make a quick note in Hello about exactly what you talked about. “He will help me with my website,” or “She knows someone who does branding.” These brief notes may seem redundant, but when you’re going back over these connections later they’ll prove invaluable.
Another awesome service worth checking out is CardMunch by LinkedIn. While you don’t get the rich history like you do with Hello, CardMunch is a great way to turn every business card you come across into an actual contact in your smartphone. And if your contacts are already synced between your phone and your email or your computer at home, bam, you’re set. Just make sure to add a note to their contact card on your phone briefly describing what you talked about so when you follow up later you don’t have to rely entirely on your brain to remember.
2. Create Reminders For Yourself
So you meet someone, you trade business cards, and you agree to follow up with each other after the conference. But how do you remember to actually do that? Use your smartphone right then and there to create reminders for yourself. A good reminder program will leverage the cloud so that your reminder isn’t just on your phone, but on your tablet, laptop and desktop as well. At the very least it should offer a web interface you can use on every device you own. Some ones I’ve tested and like include Remember the Milk and Astrid, but even Google’s Tasks which are built into your Gmail on Android or your default iPhone Reminders app are good enough and automatically sync across all of your devices.
Here’s what you have to do. Every time you meet someone at a conference or event, there will be something to follow up on. Maybe you need to email them the name of a contact, or maybe there’s a specific project you’d like someone’s help on. In as clear and concise language as possible, turn these into actionable tasks in your reminders list and set them for a date after the conference ends, preferably a few days after it ends. This way, even if your real brain forgets to follow up, your digital brain will ping you from the cloud and let you know what you need to take care of.
It is absolutely crucial, however, that you’re using a cloud-based service for this. It’s one thing to create the reminder from your phone, but after the event ends you may be on any number of events when the reminders start popping up and you want to make sure you don’t miss them. So create them from your smartphone right away, but make sure they’re synced across your devices.
Using the cloud is all about offloading this crucial information related to your follow-up from your brain and instead putting it into the cloud so you won’t forget. What cloud-based solutions have you tried, and what are your sticking points? Leave a comment or a question below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.