To Opt-In or Not After a Networking Event? That is the Question!

I was at an event a few weeks ago and handed out a few of my business cards to people that I wanted to connect with outside of the event. I did my follow-up and tried to personalize the message to each individual who gave me their business card, as I feel that if you make people know that you listened to them, the relationship starts out on a much better foot. 

I received a few emails back from the different types of potential business relationships and I was/am really excited about that.  I had this forwarding movement and momentum to go to more events and meet more people that I could potentially collaborate with, exchange industry info, and also just gain knowledge from. 

Then I opened up my email one morning and there was something that I was actually pretty shocked to see, a promotional email I never signed up for! I had met a fellow small business owner at that event who is just launching her business. We talked and exchanged business cards and I was excited to see where her new business was going to go, but had not received a response from her from my follow up.  So when I got this promotional email about her business I was actually quite surprised, as I had never told her that I wanted to receive that type of email communication from her. I was just interested in seeing where the relationship was going through personal email, and I had never been given the opportunity to "opt-in" to her mailing list. Being in the marketing industry, I know how important it is to have people opt-in to receiving emails about your business especially when it's coming from an email-marketing platform, which this one was. 

So come to my surprise that I also got another email in the few days that followed, from another business owner who I had met an exchanged business cards with and also did a personal follow-up email to. I know that she's a leader in the industry and both of these people are marketers and understanding the opt-in concept so it got me thinking, should we offer up a double opt-in on a personal level to people that we meet at networking events?

Now I'm not talking about trade-shows were someone comes to your booth and gives you a card in exchange for some sort of incentive or give-away or raffle because they've already opted in to getting more information from you about your product or service that you are actively promoting at this event What I am talking about is a more personal level when we go to events that aren't trade-shows, the intimate "happy hour" networking events.  Should we ask them in a personal follow up to opt-in or should we actually just put them on our email list and just see what happens?

Personally for me I believe that we should always personally follow up and ask for opt-ins from these types of events, because we aren't actively promoting our services. These events serve a purpose, to get to know people personally without the stress of trying to sell them something. I think that just because you met someone at an event like that, doesn't give you the right to put him or her on your coveted email list without asking him or her again to see if this is what they truly want. Even though they gave you their business card and seem to be interested, you should then follow up with a personal email that asked them to subscribe to your list in a non-salesy way. If they really want to be on your email marketing list, then they will sign up, but you are letting them make the choice so that your unsubscribe rates don't increase.

If you put these people unwillingly on your list and they do unsubscribe that will look bad, not only in the eyes of the email marketing platform that you're using but also in the eyes of these potential relationship that you want to cultivate. Give people the choice to be on your email list. We are all bombarded by so many different marketing/promotional emails that when one comes through that you weren't expecting it almost can leave a bad taste in your mouth. I know for me, I immediately unsubscribe because it is unauthentic and a bad practice to me. 

So I truly want to know what do you think! Should there be that personalized opt-in after a networking event? Or do you think we should just add them to the list and see what happens.

I want to get this conversation started because just because my opinion is doing a personalize opt-in doesn't mean that you guys don't have your own! I truly know that the power of choice is way more impactful than the power of assumption so with that being said if you ever see me at event and we exchanged business cards know that you'll always get a personalized follow up from me with the choice to opt into my marketing email list! 

Does thinking about how to follow up give you stress? Check out the latest resource on how to reduce your stress with 4 easy and quick tips!