Networking At Conferences, Seminars & Workshops: How To Make The Most of Live Events

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It's Springtime and the business conference season is in full swing!  Conferences are a great venue for networking — in fact, participants usually list networking as one of their top reasons for attending these types of events.

If you have a conference, seminar or workshop on your schedule, then you'll want to make the most of your networking opportunities while you are there.  The key is to "plan ahead" for these networking opportunities so that you leverage your time and your connections.

I read an excellent post on Scott Allen's Entrepreneurs Blog that shared the "Top 10 Conference Networking Tips" from author, Thom Singer. Both Scott and Thom have fantastic information and ideas, so rather than "re-create the wheel," I'll share my top 3 from their list.  (but you'll definitely want to check out the entire list via the link above).

"Put your technology away." If I see one more person dash out of a session and immediately start texting and calling . . . I'll . . . well, I'll tell them to read this post!  You are truly missing out on opportunities to meet fabulous people and exchange ideas and resources.  Did you really go to the event so you could spend all your time on the phone?  In the words of Bill Cosby, "C'mon, People!"

"Do not automatically send a LinkedIn or Facebook request." This is jumping the gun and one of my newest pet peeves.  Really, we've just met and now you want to see personal details of my life?  Think about that one. On the other hand, you can follow folks on Twitter to get a sense of what they are like without the depth of commitment of "friending" and "connecting."

"Read their stuff."  After a conference, check out the blogs, tweets, books and articles of those you've met or speakers you've heard. Again, it's a great way to get to know a person and their expertise.

"Promote others."  Post on your blog or Twitter about those you've met at the conference.  It's a great way to start a real connection and shows them it's not all about you.

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  1. I don’t agree that you shouldn’t send a Linked In request when you meet someone networking. I think this is a good follow up to meeting someone – it’s indicating that you valued them and want to keep in touch with them.
    Obviously you’re only going to do this for people that you’ve actually had a good conversation with, and it’s only polite to say something about that conversation on the LinkedIn invitation.
    The only personal information LinkedIn gives is what people have chosen to give as their public face. Facebook is another thing altogether, and is probably best kept for people who you know really well, but a nicely worded LinkedIn invitation is always welcome with me.

  2. Julia —
    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. It illustrates the different types of LinkedIn philosophies and users that are online. Some are considered “open users” which accept all invitations to connect, while others may have certain criteria which need to be met in order to connect — such as having worked with them personally.
    The basic idea is to NOT simply add connections to our network that may come from a 3 minute conversation or business card exchange. This happens all too frequently and usually doesn’t result in a “real connection” being made, but just another number added to the total.
    You hit the nail on the head when you stated that you would only send an invitation to someone you’ve had a good conversation with. I would add to that the importance of having a reason to connect again. Oftentimes we meet nice folks at events, but there may not be a reason to further the relationship. Think about WHY you wish to stay in touch and how you might be able to help the other person in some way — be it advice, a recommendation, helpful info, etc.
    The key with these types of invitations is to make it personal and mention something specific about how you met (at XYZ Conference)and the conversation you had. This helps to build rapport and to refresh the person’s memory (we all like to think that we are “unforgettable,” don’t we?).
    Thanks again for stopping by!