I will be attending a conference for authors next week and have been doing some research on networking tips for live events. Here is a compilation of 29 tips I have gathered from friends on Facebook as well as my own online research. By the way, if you are going to be at the Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs next week, let me know! Maybe we can meet each other in person.
UPDATE: Here is a recap of 7 things I learned while at the conference.
General Networking Tips
- Know why you are going to the event, what you hope to accomplish, who you want to meet and why you want to meet them.
- Make your goal to meet new friends, not just business contacts. Therefore, look for people you like and enjoy spending time with while at the event.
- Think long term vs. short term when making new connections.
- Focus on giving to others instead of simply what you can get from them. Ask yourself how you can serve them. Can you connect them with someone you know or share a valuable resource with them?
- Listen more than you talk. Learn to ask great questions to get the other person talking about themselves and their business. When you push yourself on others, it can sometimes be a turn off. However, people almost always love talking about themselves.
- When you do talk about yourself, tell stories. People tend to remember stories more than they do credentials.
- Take action right away. For example, if you promise to connect someone with a business partner of yours, send the e-mail right away on your smart phone. The sooner you take action, the less likely you are to forget.
- Only go to events that excite you.
- Networking should be a win-win for everyone involved. If you are the only person that benefits, then it probably won’t go over as well.
- “Be genuine. Genuinely care and be interested. Focus on connecting and look for connecting points. Look for what you have in common that would sustain the relationship.” ~Sharon Gibson
What to Take With You to a Live Event
- Create a professional business card that you can hand out. However, don’t force a business card on everyone you meet. Give them to those you really connect with and want to get to know more. A few places to get business cards are VistaPrint and Club Flyers. I like using VistaPrint for ease of use. Consider putting your picture on the business card so your new contacts can easily place your name with your face.
- Use Moo’s printing services to make minicards with different quotes and different photos. They allow you to create up to 100 different designs. This may get people talking about you and coming up to you just to get one of your cards to see what quote they will get.
- Take business cards of your friends to hand out for recommendations. Instead of telling someone that you want to introduce them to someone, you can simply hand them your friend’s business card.
- “Take business cards AND other handouts so you can leave an impression. A handout with how you work with others or a tip sheet vs. just a business card is a great way to help them remember who you are. At the conference I went to a while back there were tons of business cards being passed, but the ones who gave handouts are the ones I remember the most. I even posted a tip sheet someone gave me in my office for a while.” ~ Heather Hart
- Consider taking your own personalized name tag. This can become a conversations starter and help you stand out. Put it on your right side as that is the side that moves closer to the other person when you are shaking hands.
- Order a customized lanyard with your business name and/or website printed on it. Then, when people take pictures with you at the event, your website URL is captured in every picture. I did find one website that would allow you to just order one lanyard, but they do charge a $40 screen setup fee along with the cost of the lanyard.
Before the Live Event
- Use Twitter before the event to look up any conference related hashtags to connect with those who are going.
- See if you can find a list of who will be attending the event, check the list for anyone you know and/or people you want to meet (i.e. prospective clients, strategic partners, etc.).
- Do some homework on those you want to meet by going to their social media profiles (i.e. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn). Find any details you might want to bring up when you do meet them in person (something you have in common, an accomplishment to congratulate them on, an article on their website you enjoyed, etc.).
- Make sure your own social media profiles are up to date.
During the Live Event
- Arrive early to the event as that is a good time to meet new people.
- Use Twitter during the event to follow any conference related hashtags and connect with those who are at the event.
- Connect with the people you planned to connect with and ask those you know who they think you should meet.
- When you get a business card from someone else, write on their card something you learned about them.
- Get pictures and videos that you can share.
- “Make it a point to sit with different people and go out to dinner with different groups each day. ” ~Ellen Britt
After the Live Event
- Send a handwritten note expressing how much you enjoyed meeting a new contact. If you genuinely would refer business to them, let them know that you will happily refer people to them.
- Connect with those you met on social media and remind them where you met them.
- “After writing conferences and other conferences, I usually try to stay an extra day or afternoon to process and record all I’ve learned. For networking events I would probably list the contacts I want to follow up on and write something that I learned about them down. i.e. what they like, about their families etc.” ~ Sharon Gibson
What other tips do you have for networking at live events? I would love to hear them!
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