This is a post written specifically for those who attended MicroConf 2016. If you run a bootstrapped software business and you haven’t been to MicroConf, do yourself a favor and get on the waiting list for 2017.
It’s natural to think of a conference as a series of talks. As you already knew or surely discovered at MicroConf 2016, the most valuable part of any conference is actually not the content of the talks (although that’s great too) but the relationships you form and the conversations you have during the conference.
You spent a not-small amount of time and money to go to MicroConf. So what you should do after the conference is to put in a couple hours of work to hold onto the relationships, which are possibly the most valuable part of your investment. I’ll tell you how I do it.
First, during my conversations with attendees, I make sure not to end the conversation without asking for a card. (Some people think business cards have been made obsolete by phones but that’s very much not true.)
Maybe you didn’t get everyone’s card, or anyone’s card. That’s okay since MicroConf has its own Slack organization. If you remember the names of the people you met, you can look up those people’s email addresses there. From my stack of cards and from the people I look up in Slack comes my list of people with whom to follow up.
For each person, I do three things.
First, I send an email saying it was nice to meet them. I try to include at least one detail about them from our conversation to show them that I care about them and their business.
Second, I add the person to my CRM, along with all the relevant details I can remember about that person, including both business and personal stuff. Hopefully you’re using a CRM too. I can’t think of any situation where running a business and not using a CRM (or something like a CRM) makes any sense.
Lastly, I evaluate the person’s business focus to see if it makes sense for us to schedule a time to talk and learn more about each other. For example, my new friend Melanie runs a design agency. I know a lot of the kind of people who would hire a design agency, and she might know the kind of people who would hire a developer, so I’ll probably invite Melanie to have a Skype so we can learn a little more about each other’s business. A couple other guys do technical education, which is what I want to do, so I’ll probably talk to them about the possibility of a mastermind.
That’s all. It can be surprisingly time-consuming to do this for everyone you’ve met but it’s very much worth it.
If you were at MicroConf 2016 and you want to keep in touch with me (whether we met in person or not), please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.