You finally get home after a conference, event or even a short networking session. Your pockets, wallet, handbag and whatnot are full of business cards. Does that sound familiar? How many times have you promised yourself, “This time, I really will keep in touch, instead of letting these promising connections just fade away?”

I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, but somehow you never find the time to maintain all the new connections you’ve made. If that is the case, it’s time to get acquainted with Ivan Misner’s “24/7/30 follow-up system”. Ivan is the CEO of BNI – the worlds’ largest business networking organization.

24: Initial contact within one day

Obviously, this refers to the first 24 hours after meeting someone. It is highly recommended to enter all the details you’ve accumulated into your list of contacts and then write to them. An e-mail, WhatsApp, SMS – anything goes, as long as it gets done.

Don’t wait. Act immediately, while their memory of meeting you is still fresh. Send that first message, mentioning you were happy to meet and that you hope to stay in touch.

7: Time to get cracking!

During the first week after the meeting, preferably close to the beginning of the week, keep the promises you made to the people you met during the event: send any materials you promised to send, make the connections you pledged to create, and deepen the impression by adding your company profile.

After you have done all this, wait two or three days, and then make a follow-up phone call to ensure that the materials you sent were indeed received.

The follow-up call can also be an excellent opportunity to make an appointment (if you wish – if the person resides in the same country, or if you feel like traveling again).

What else?

In this day and age, during the event or immediately after the meeting, you should use social media to contact the people you want to stay in touch with. So whether your preferred arena is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram – send a personal message (NO sales pitch allowed), and retain the option to communicate with them directly, one on one.

You could also upgrade your social media responses (likes, kudos, etc.) to those people who particularly impressed you at the meeting.

30: Going out for a second date?

If further relationship deepening is in order, make an appointment within one month after the meeting. It can be done by Skype, Zoom, Google Team, or even face-to-face.

In conclusion, keeping those connections alive is important, whether the 24/7/30 method is suitable for you, or if you prefer other methods. Follow-up is an integral part of any marketing and sales process.

Remember: business relationships are reciprocal. Therefore, be attentive to the other party’s needs – help them with connections, referrals, and sound advice. There’s nothing like giving to strengthen a relationship, and it will always pay off in the long run.

Good luck!