You just put out a lot of money to be part of a trade show. So now what do you do with that big box of leads?

Some of those people just wanted your prize that you offered in the draw. So how do you try and figure out which ones are qualified leads?

If you are above average at lead generation you may have written on some of them when they came in. That will help. Though many may not be in your target market today,  they may be in your target market next year. So how do you keep them engaged?

Here are a few tips on how to communicate over the long term and turn those cold leads into good relationships that bring you business. If you can make them feel like they want to hear from you over and over again you will create loyalty to you and your brand. By the time they are ready to buy, they would not think of going anywhere else.

1. If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, create one immediately. Then add all of these contacts to your connections. Every time you create a blog or an email (if it is done right), you can then post that on LinkedIn and expose all of your connections to your perfectly worded and beautifully crafted message all about you and your unique offering. If you do it well, they will even like it enough to follow you on all your social networks!

2. On your draw slip you asked for their email address, so they are expecting you to contact them. Now you can send them some information about what you do. It is always best to be clear that you are planning to contact them, so in the future think that through and be specific so you can easily connect. If you are not sure if you were clear about that  then you need to call them and ask them if you can.  That is how permission based emailing works. Simply ask them, they seldom say “no.” In fact, I don’t remember anyone ever saying “no.” Once they have said “yes” and they have given you their email, they have opted in for you to send them a nice professional email where you can have “click throughs” that offer additional information about what you do. You can tell by who clicked through if they are at all interested in your services. You now have permission and can send them future communications and tips as well to begin building a relationship with them by adding value to your content. This is just the beginning of an innovative email marketing strategy that will give you an electronic footprint and set the stage for future viral social media strategies. Our client The CIBN has built a huge email list from events and they get new business from that list every month. At Loyal2U we have whole strategies for businesses from this one concept.

3. Know your future clients by “liking” them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and connecting with them on LinkedIn. When they say something interesting make a comment and let them know that you like it. That causes them to open up more and grow in relationship. Every touch, makes them like you more and it becomes easy to communicate further.

4. Send them a personal hand written card or note. So few people take the time to do this, it immediately puts you ahead of the herd. Personally I use Send Out Cards. I have their $150/month plan. You can start at $17 but I like being able to send as many as I like on the spot. At a trade show I can take my picture with the person and ask for their mail address to send them a thank you card. (They always say yes) Then I send them a thank you with their own picture on the front of the card! It is pure genius. I get business all the time from this. Here is the link.

5. Have a look at their website and learn about their product or service. Then call them up or use (LinkedIn to message them) and tell them that you have looked at it and that you are impressed with (whatever you liked) and tell them that you would like to learn more about what they do. Arrange a time to meet for coffee. Book the appointment.

If you follow the above pattern for follow up and make calls regularly, you will never have an empty calendar, a boring life, or an empty bank account.

Kerry George CalgaryKerry George is the owner of Loyal2U as well as one of the owners of The Canadian Imperial Business Network. She is an author, speaker, mentor, and successful entrepreneur bringing together thousands of business owners and professionals every year through over 400 events in the Calgary region alone.