If this summer has taught me anything, it’s the value of knowing and connecting with the right people. In August, I held my first live workshop that didn’t go nearly as well as it could have. I attribute this to my lack of an extended network and meaningful relationships that I could call on. Even with the best marketing and a value pack agenda, I lacked the credibility I needed to have with my audience.

Fast forward a couple of months later and I’ve attended events big and small and developed some great connections with people I truly admire. Relationships that go beyond the give and take of business. I’ve taken the time to really nurture relationships that I already had and have become strategic about new business relationships that I want to start. AND I’m doing it in real life.

In this post, I’m going to share with you my top 5 takeaways for getting the most value from attending events and conferences.

 

 

How Networking At Events Used To Be Done

 

I shamefully have to admit that up until recently, I cared very little about networking. In fact, I dreaded it. I was willing to do all of my marketing and “client attraction” online, just to avoid it. I was so naive and completely drank the kool-aid of having an “abundant flow of clients by just marketing online.” And it’s because I had a very old view of what networking is.

I thought, the idea was to go to networking events equipped with your business cards, work the room and try to convince people to give you what you need. The place to be for extroverts and a drag for introverts.

Thinking about networking in this way is probably the worst thing I could have done. Rather than thinking about networking as growing the list of people you know, think of networking as growing a community of people you meaningfully connect with.

 

I thought, the idea was to go to networking events equipped with your business cards, work the room and try to convince people to give you what you need. The place to be for extroverts and a drag for introverts.

 

How To Effectively Network At Events Today

 

It’s not enough to just build connections online. To be honest, relationships aren’t real until they happen in real life.

How many times have you starting communication with multiple people online only to forget someone’s handle on Twitter or who it was you were talking about your love of Star Wars with.

There are billions of people to communicate with online but nothing makes it more real than getting a chance to sit down in real life.

So, when it come to meeting in person at events or conferences, here are some innovative (not really, just the old becoming new again) tips for making the most of it.

 

Have a goal for why you’re attending

 

Why should you attend this event? What will making connections there help you with? Without a goal, you end up at events that aren’t fruitful. You end up not making any significant connections. With a goal, you know why you’re there and who you should be meeting.

 

Know who you want to meet

 

Do your research. This is where social media is your greatest ally. Get on Twitter and see who else is attending that big conference in LA. Are they your audience? People you can see yourself collaborating with? Someone who has a similar audience to you? Make a list of the people you will make the effort to meet.

 

Consider a different approach to using business cards

 

Business cards can be a crutch for people to avoid actually introducing themselves to people. How many times have you seen cards on tables or even in the bathroom at events? Very rarely does this technique work, if at all.

Plus, the value is in the follow up. You want to get other people’s contact information, not just give out your own. Consider leaving your business cards at home, or just bring one card and giving it to the first person you connect with.

A great tip: Make a list in your email provider or CRM for the event, and set up an automated email that reminds them who you are and includes your contact information. When you meet someone and get their email, the get sent this automated email.

One caveat though. Don’t put these people on your main email list because they haven’t confirmed they want to be there and it’s illegal. This is just for personal use to track the people you meet at the event

 

Listen & Give

 

Make sure you’re not just talking about what you do, and that you’re doing some listening too. You can learn a lot about what that person is working on and how you can help them. Maybe you have a contact that help them or a client you could recommend or even a tool or app. There are so many ways to give, but you won’t know unless you genuinely listen to their needs.

 

Use a CRM to effectively manage communication

 

If you choose to add your new contacts to a CRM tool immediately, it will be it much easier to follow up and to keep track of your communications. You don’t want someone you’re really interested in building a relationship with to slip through the cracks for 6 months.

I used HubSpot’s free CRM and I love it! It’s great for tracking when you last communicated and even set reminders and make appointments.

 

 

Note To Introverts…

 

Make it even simpler for yourself when setting your goals by being very specific about the outcome like:

  • Set a goal of connecting with 3 people, and once you do, call it a night
  • Use listening to your advantage, by spending more time getting to know the person and learning how you can give

 

 

 

You Got This!

 

Networking at events don’t have to be a drag. It can actually be very fun when you make it about getting to know people and not about “working the room”. Get into a routine that prioritizes connection.

Let me know what you thought of the tips I shared!

comments powered by HyperComments