Attending A Conference? Here’s How To Obtain The Perfect Network
One inherent problem with attending a conference is that all or most of the attendees are on a similar mission. You are all seeking the same connections (network) and, as such, are unlikely to directly meet your goals. After all, the speakers cannot have meaningful interactions with everyone in attendance.
So, if you have a ticket for your next conference, you may be asking yourself, “now what?” These proven practices will help you get the most out of any given conference. Here are five ways to maximize your investment of time, energy, and money:
1. Research Who Will Be Presenting
Most conferences have a website or social media listing the speakers and their bios in advance. Visit the sites and see if the presenters whom you are most interested in hearing and meeting have social media accounts. Follow them on social, and let them know that you are looking forward to hearing what they have to say. Speakers like this type of early publicity and it’ll set you apart from other attendees. They may even look you up to see who you are and why connecting might be advantageous to them too.
2. Bring The Right Tech
Pack a tablet or small laptop with plenty of battery life, or a smartphone with a power bank. Then sit in the front row (or as close as possible). You may hear some really valuable points from speakers, so it is important to take notes. It also keeps you engaged and gives you quotes that you can use later. Having close proximity to the speaker also helps with engagement and enables you to take the best pictures (fewer heads, etc. in the way), which makes you look like a VIP to people who see your posts.
3. Use The Conference Hashtag
Take those quotes you jotted down from key speakers and be ready to post about what is being said via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (in that order). Remember to use the conference hashtag. Double check that the presenter’s name actually matches their social media accounts (there’s nothing worse than quoting the wrong person). Panels are the best because when you take a picture, you can tag everyone from left to right. Hopefully, they will notice the tag, acknowledge it with a “like” and, best case scenario, retweet or share your post with their network. This provides you more likes, greater reach, and also further exposure to the presenter should you want to follow up later. More on that next.
4. Introduce Yourself To Presenters
After all of your effort and hard work, this is where you reap the benefits of your labor. In a perfect world, the presenters will have recognized your proactive outreach and already know who you are. If not, kindly let them know that you enjoyed their advice (mention something that they said that moved you or that you could use their assistance with) and ask how you can stay connected beyond the conference. Always try to offer something that you can do for them in return. A personal touch goes a long way and may inspire presenters to remember you out of the hundreds of people that they met that day.
5. Follow-up With Social Media Network
This is the step that separates true networkers from everyone else. As you exchange business cards with everyone you meet, check their cards, get their contact info into your contacts, and write in the notes section where you met them and what you discussed. Do this within 48 hours, or you’ll probably forget. Then use that same information in a customized LinkedIn request from your desktop or www.LinkedIn.com (not the mobile version) to add them to your professional network. You can also choose to keep engaging with them on all social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Once accepted, you can develop a stronger network with them and leverage it over time.
Additional Content: Glassdoor