Self Storage Networking Events Part 3

by Kenny Pratt

Upclose TelephoneThis is the third part of a three-part series. In Self Storage Networking Part 1 I give you some guidance on how to prepare before the event. In Self Storage Networking Part 2 I outline my recommendations for what to do while you are at the event.
Now that you are back from your networking event and you established a positive acquaintance with several people, now is the time for follow-up. Effective follow-up will triple or quadruple the benefit you get from your networking events.

Most likely, the people you talked to don’t currently use storage and aren’t currently shopping for storage.  That’s ok. Effective follow-up will help you become the go-to person for storage if the need ever arises in the future, and it sets you up as the person to whom they will refer friends and clients.

Here are my recommendations about effective follow-up.

When should you follow-up?

First, it is optimal to follow-up with the people you meet within 72 business hours.  That gives you a little wiggle room in your schedule, and is a short enough period of time that if they have forgotten you, they haven’t totally forgotten you.

When you follow-up you are going to make a phone call, send an email, or mail a note.

What should you say?

First,  remind then how they know you.   For example, “We met at the chamber mixer on Wednesday and we talked about the new restaurant on 4th street.” The notes you wrote on the back of their business card are super-helpful for this.

Second, give them your thoughts about the future relationship. This is where you tell them how you might be able to help them or how you might be able to help each other.

  • If they currently use storage with a competitor maybe you can offer them a special deep discount to woo them away?
  • If, by some miracle, you catch them during the small window of time when they are shopping for a storage unit then you definitely need to follow up. Offer them an incentive to rent with you. The incentive need not be huge, but it will be best if it is at least as good as what they will see in your craigslist postings or on your website.  You don’t want them to feel like you are trying to take advantage of them and your new relationship.

Third, you should try and give them something of value.  This is especially true if they are not going to rent from you right away.

  • You might connect them with someone else in your network. Perhaps they sell a certain type of product and could benefit by being introduced to one of your customers.
  • You can send them a copy of your store-branded “Guide to Storage”.
  • If you have nothing of value to give them right away, don’t worry about it. Don’t let that keep you from following up.   Just let them know you liked meeting them and that you would love to stay in touch.

Keeping the relationship alive

Now that you have the first follow-up contact taken care of you’ll need to maintain the relationship over time.  The nice thing about this is that much of it can be automated.

Email: You can automate your follow-up with a series of email messages. The tool you use for automating you email responses is called an auto-responder. If you sign up for my email newsletter, you’ll see an auto-responder in action.  The auto-responder is how I remember who to send my revenue-building tips to and how I remember when to send them… its all automatic.  Some good choices are Aweber or Constant Contact.

Your auto-response messages can be as simple as “Just Saying hi because I haven’t seen you for awhile.  Is there anything I can do to help you with your business?” .  Or they can be more elaborate information about your referal program or a list of tips on how storing whether at self storage or in their garage.  Lastly, you can send them discounts or offers, especially if they are “exclusive” and offered only to your friends.  I just caution you about overdoing this last one.

Cards: Try Send Out Cards.  Send out cards is like an email auto-responder, but with greeting cards instead.  While email will let you deliver more substative content, nothing beats the warm fuzzies of a greeting card.  Now that everything is done electronically, something sent “snail mail” stands out even more.  You can get started easily with a “retail” account.  Or if you are going to send out a fair amount of cards each month, then you can go for the wholesale account.

LinkedIn: If you followed my recommendations in Part 2 you will have already asked for their permission to connect on LinkedIn.   If they said yes, then this is a no-brainer.  If you never asked, that’s ok.  Look for them on LinkedIn anyway and invite them to connect.  If they accept your invitation, you will likely be the only purveyor of storage in their contact list.  LinkedIn allows you to send a personal message to accompany the invite.  I would recommend you invite them to connect on LinkedIn about the same time you do your initial follow-up.  You can use much of the same personal message you put into your email or note to them in your personal invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

There are many other benefits to connecting on LinkedIn but that is beyond the scope of this article.  Here’s a bunch of nicely organized reference material on smart ways to use LinkedIn if you are interested.

I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn.  Feel free to add me.

Twitter: If you are on Twitter you can follow your acquaintances there.  Twitter will make it very easy for you to learn more about them over time and to have simple, casual interactions with them.  If you are already on Twitter, I’d love to connect with you there too.  You can follow me @sellingstorage and I’ll follow you back for sure.

What if I’m way past 72 hours?

What if its been weeks or months since the encounter, should you just let it go? Negatory good buddy. You should still follow-up. Long overdue follow-up is better than no follow-up. The worst that can happen is that they are unresponsive. If you are nice and just reconnecting one human being to another without really trying to get something out of them,  you will probably be successful.

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