IFA Convention – Investment or Expense? The Follow Up

The IFA convention is over and you are back at your desk (maybe a few dollars poorer from the casinos).  There were lots of people to meet, some great laughs and boatloads of information.  So now what?  To make your attendance at the convention an investment instead on an expense, there is a lot of work to do.  You can maximize your investment with 10 easy steps.

1.   Assess your goals

You set off to the convention with goals and you must decide whether or not they were achieved.  The best way to do this is to sort through the cards and materials you gathered.

  • Clear your desk or a workspace.
  • Write each goal on a sticky note and dedicate a section of the workspace to it.
  • Gather all the business cards, handouts, notes and other materials from the convention.
  • Sort them into the piles that support the goals and make another pile for those things that don’t relate.
  • Prioritize your goals to start your follow-up. This can be email, a call or a good, old-fashioned note.
  • Work through each pile, by priority until you are done.

If you didn’t reach each goal, ask yourself why and then create new tactics for your next meeting.

2.   Follow up

As a franchisor or franchisee you want to pursue the peers and vendors who can help support your goals, so make a plan to reach out.  Decide the best way to reach people: phone call, email, note card or follow someone on FaceBook and Twitter.  Know what you want to achieve from the communication and relationship and make a plan for that.  Share the plan with the peer so they can decide if they are a good resource for you and how much time they can dedicate.

In preparing for the convention we talked about meeting people.  Well, now you did and you want to build on that for the future, so get to work.

As a supplier, work the leads in order of urgency.  Who expressed the strongest interest, was specific about their needs and had clearly-defined deadlines.  Start with them.

We all need to be sensitive to the abuse of people’s time.  Contact the lead, but don’t harass them.  Add them to your email campaign list, but don’t swamp their inbox with relentless messaging – that’s a sure way to collect a lot of “unsubscribes”, not clients.

Ask permission to pursue the conversations you started at the convention.  This is true for everyone.  Time is the only non-renewable resource we have and it must be used wisely.  Your needs may conflict with the other person’s

3.   Use the Convention App

That little app was a powerhouse and the best way to get the most from the convention.  It is still active and your best follow-up resource.  All the handouts from the concurrent sessions are available there.  Look up that supplier you visited, but whose materials you lost.  Made a connection but can’t find the business card?  Check out the registration list.  The convention lives on in your phone – harness the power of that tool to maximize your follow-up.

4.   Build relationships where you can give as well as receive

Will Rogers once said, “We are all stupid, only on different topics.”  You can learn a lot from the people you met at the IFA, but to make it a great relationship, you have to teach and give back, too.  Keep a balance in the relationships so they can sustain and grow in value.

5.   Say “Thank You”

Nothing in life is free, but more often than not, the price is sincere appreciation and thanks.  Express your thanks for the drinks someone bought, the time they spent with you, the great presentation they made…  For whatever moved you, be grateful because no one had to do it.  Don’t forget to thank the IFA staff that was amazing!

6.   Deliver on your promises

Professionals deliver. Follow up on all the promises you made: casual or formal.  During cocktail hour you mentioned an article you read and someone expressed interest.  If you said you’d send the article, do it – today.  As a speaker you told the audience you would have the information sent through the IFA – get it to the staff.  You told a friend you would call when you get back.  Stop reading this and pick up the phone.   The promises were made for a reason, so make good on them.

7.   Share the information with your system/staff

It won’t help your company if all that great information stays in your office.  Call a meeting of the department heads and share what you learned.  Consider assigning new tasks and initiatives based on what you learned.  Assign key staff to interact with the suppliers that meet your needs.  Get busy.

8.   Act on the information

Information is good, but action is great!  Take all those gems: the ideas, best practices, recommendations and success stories and turn them into your successes.  Adapt them to your system, get them into the manuals and training programs then roll them out.

9.   Stay involved

The IFA convention is not an accident.  The entire organization is carefully planned to support the entire franchise community and that includes you.  So, give back.  Join a committee, host an FBN or WFN, be an ambassador or a mentor, join Franchise Congress.  Do SOMETHING to stay involved, keep learning and growing.

10. Savor the memories

‘Nuf said.

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