This article is a guest post by Lisa Crilley Mallis of SystemSavvy Consulting, LLC.

How often do you attend networking events or workshops full of potential clients? You know that stack of business cards you accumulate by the time you leave – what do you do with those?

Read on – I have some suggestions for you that will answer these questions! And yes, this really happened to a client – I’ll call her Jane.

At a recent event, Jane received business cards from really good leads – people who are already interested in what she has to offer them.  She made notes on some of the cards to remind her of the conversations she had, ideas for future meetings, and great referrals. Jane was excited about future conversations with these prospects and as she left, her mind was whirling with ideas.

Then when she got to her office, she checked email and voicemail, and answer a couple of calls, and took care of an urgent deadline, and made two client appointments, and … and …

So, a couple of weeks later Jane prepared for another networking event. She grabbed a notebook, packed up her briefcase, and … uh-oh!! She found the stack of business cards from the LAST meeting stuffed in the bottom! OH good grief! She meant to follow-up!!!

Those great hot leads were now lukewarm at best. And then she felt like the worst networker ever, neglecting not only her own opportunities, but the chance to offer support to these contacts.  And to make matters worse, she found a couple of notes about information she had promised to someone within 24 hours!

What can Jane do to eliminate this scenario in the future?

Here’s the solution.  It’s pretty simple!

The regular networking event runs from 8:30 – 10:00AM, which is exactly the amount of time Jane blocked out in her calendar. She didn’t factor in preparation time, travel time or time to process after the event. So, when she left the event, in her mind and in her calendar she was “finished.”

A simple fix – Jane changed the time of the next networking event in her calendar! By blocking out 8:00 – 11:00 AM, she factors in travel time (which helps her arrive on time) and creates the time for her to process leads and move them all to the “next step.”

You see, Jane has a fabulous customer acquisition plan – when she uses it. After she meets someone at a networking event, Jane has multiple stages, “touches” they go through until they become a client. The challenge Jane faces (as do many of us) is that she gets easily distracted with other business needs and forgets to follow through and allow that system to work. By blocking in some time in her calendar to process her new contacts, she no longer needs to worry about this very important step falling through the cracks.

This change in schedule allows Jane to follow through on leads, and the more follow through, the more opportunities arise, and then more business. As her business grows and she is invited to more events, this process continues to evolve and expand.

Jane has a more realistic view of her customer acquisition plan – it takes time! And now she has a better handle on how much time each step of that plan takes and can schedule accordingly.

Jane’s new focus on both the initial contact and the “after-care” allows these important relationships to develop, which also encourages more referrals to her as her associates know these prospects will be well taken care of.

Your turn! How do you make sure you follow up with new contacts that you meet at networking events? Please post your comment below!

 Lisa Crilley Mallis, time strategy visionary, believes every person deserves the opportunity to live the life of their dreams feeling in control and bringing balance into their lives.  The crazy, “I’m so busy” feeling does not have to be way of life. Lisa is a master at cutting to the heart of overwhelm to help you regain control of your schedule and experience life.  Every day can be productive, rewarding, and fun! Connect with Lisa at www.SystemSavvyConsulting.com.

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