If you are going to a conference or networking event, it’s important to know how to integrate the tech side of things with live networking. To that end, here are 9 tips for better live networking.
First and foremost, you want to connect on social media, LinkedIn in particular, before the event ever occurs. You also want to make sure your profile is up to date so that when people are checking you out you have your best foot forward. Look up the conference speakers as well. Check out the conference agenda, see what appeals to you and if there are any speakers you’d like to know more about, and connect with them ahead of time. This allows you to do your homework, which puts you in a better position when you’re actually live and in person.
This may seem like a silly reminder, but punctuality is important. When you’re late you can get flustered. You may not get to sit where you wanted to sit. If you arrive early, you can strategically pick where you’d like to be and you will have time to look around to see if there is anyone you’d like to connect with. If so, you can choose a seat next to that person. Arrive with time to enact your plan.
Most conferences will have a social media plan, including a hashtag to use during the event. When they share information during the event you can go ahead and take a look at it. You can use this to tag them on Instagram, Twitter, or even Facebook. That way when people are searching the event, they will find your posts. Share what you learn during the event including nuggets, quotes, and interesting people you’ve met. One of the reasons to utilize social media for your business is to help people, so go ahead and share all the great information you glean from the event.
If you have a question at a live event, usually someone will come to you with a microphone or the speaker will repeat the question from the stage. If you do get a chance to ask your question on the microphone, introduce yourself first. If someone hands you a microphone, you don’t want to just start talking. Tell them who you are and where you work. “Hi, my name is John Smith and I’m with Smith Realty. My question is…” It’s very helpful to identify yourself because what is going to happen is if you ask a question that interests someone else they’re going to want to connect with you too. Even if it’s not during a panel, if you have a question for an individual, you still need to introduce yourself so they know who you are.
Ask questions of the people you are with. Really get to know them. Serve first. It’s always about what’s in it for them.
You aren’t there to sell, so just don’t do it. You are there to connect and you want to connect with people in a genuine way. That happens best when you ask them questions about who they are. Most people are eager to talk about their business and share information with you. You just have to ask the right questions.
Avoid the temptation to duck out early. Stay for the duration. Conferences generally have so much information that will be shared and it would be a shame to miss any of it.
Ideally you want to connect with new people on LinkedIn so you can maintain a connection going forward. You may want to make follow up plans to meet with them one on one, but definitely follow up. The follow up is seriously so critical and it’s especially important for you to do it quickly while they still remember who you are.
It’s going to make your life so much easier during a live event if you don’t have to remember everything. Using an app, such as Evernote, to take notes and scan in business cards is a game changer. Evernote is simple to use and it’s free. You can scan a business card and it pulls the name, phone number, and email directly off the card and into your notes. You can integrate it with your contacts as well. Later you can search your notes with keywords if you can’t remember the name.
Even if all you do is take a picture of the card and text it to yourself with notes, do something that will help you remember the connections you make.
If you utilize these tips you will have a much better networking experience and make genuine connections that can grow over time. Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet people. Network with those in your industry and those who can benefit from your industry and watch your success grow.