One of my clients recently shared that she has more than 500 business cards from people she’s recently met just sitting in a pile.  She was planning to send them off to a transcription service to have them added to her contact database.

For me, a natural question emerged.  What happens after those people are added to the database?

It wouldn’t be wise to add people to your mailing list without their explicit permission. The rules around those sorts of things are getting tighter.

So, here’s what I do (and recommend)…

  • Send a warm, friendly, personal email that tells them how great it was to meet them and that you’d like to stay in touch.
  • Include a link to a resources page on your website or to a specific piece of content that you think they’ll find valuable… and tell them WHY you think they’ll love it.
  • Let them know that you periodically send helpful updates, but only with their permission.
  • Give them an opt-in link so that they can add themselves to the distribution list.

This single email does several things simultaneously.

First, it reminds people who you are and where you met them.

Secondly, it shows that you are interested in staying connected and that you could be a valuable resource (even if they aren’t yet a member).

Thirdly, you’re giving them an opportunity to explicitly opt-in for future communication so you are staying legal and ethical.

Finally, it’s building your prospect list in a personally engaging way.

Assuming your contact opts in to continue hearing from you, about a week later, I suggest having something to which you can invite them.  This could be an introductory webinar, a new member mixer, or even a Facebook event that’s open to the public, etc.

An event invites them to take another step forward in the relationship.  It serves as an “Activation” point, where someone is specifically presented with the choice to join.

Sometimes people ask about whether inviting people to some sort of private consultation is a good step here. I personally think that’s too big of a first step for most prospects.  Instead, give them something where they can blend in and simply get to know you and your organization better.

You may be thinking that this sounds far too simple, but the truth is that follow-up doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the most effective follow-up you can possibly do is comprised of what you’ll be able to do consistently and naturally.

Share your thoughts in the comments.  I'd love to hear!


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.




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