Going to an event? Make the most of your networking opportunity
As an entrepreneur you probably attend a handful of events every year. The reason you attend the events is, of course, the topic or issue that the event will address: you want to deepen your knowledge on the topic. But, the second important reason is the people who will be there and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.
How do you approach events to make sure that you connect with the right people (for you) while you are there? Follow this 3-part approach.
1. Do your research
Find out who is going to be at the event. This might require a bit of digging. Most events have either a Facebook Event Page or a Group on Facebook or LinkedIn for those who are registered. This makes it super easy to see who plans on attending and learn a few key things about them. Make a list of a few key people you are looking for (this could be different for everyone and every event, but you are probably looking for potential customers, potential collaborators, or potential providers). I recommend putting about 5 people on that list for an event of 2-3 days.
If the event organizers haven’t made is super easy for you with the tools mentioned above, you can still find out who is attending to a certain extent.
For example, maybe the organization who is hosting has an open group on social media. Simply create a post asking who is attending (or even search to see if someone else has already done that).
Check the organization’s social media pages for posts where they announce the event of share registration details. Anyone who has liked the post or commented on it is likely attending.
Has the event shared what it’s hashtag will be? Do a search to see who is already using that hashtag. It means that they have probably already registered for the event.
Now that you have your list of people that you want to connect with, reach out to them on social media or via email. Send a casual note letting them know that you saw they were going to/interesting in the event and that you will be attending as well. And hopefully you can connect during a lunch break. Something like this:
“Hi Jennifer! I saw that you are planning on attending the Kick-Ass Women in Business Retreat in Toronto next month. I’m going too! I would love to be able to connect with you while we are there.”
Doing this helps put you on their radar, and they will have the chance to get to know a bit about you and process it before you meet I person. It also means both of you are making an effort to make sure you meet up during the event.
Whether or not you make specific plans to meet depends a bit on the size of the event. If there will be 100 people or so, I generally let the connection happen naturally. If it’s an event like Social Media Marketing World where there are thousands, I try to make a specific plan to meet, otherwise there is a chance that you will never see that person!
Now that you’ve gone to your event, met up with the person/people that you planned to, and returned home, its time to initiate the follow up sequence.
Don’t overcomplicate this. Overthinking what to say is what prevents most people from sending a follow up, which create a big leak in the pipe. Sending a simple message along the lines of “It was so great meeting you at *ABC Event* and chatting about *thing you chatted about*. Let’s schedule a call to discuss *thing you said you would discuss*” can have a big impact.
The follow up part of this process is key. The problem is you go to an event, have a great time, meet some fantastic people, but then you get back to work and have tons of stuff you need to catch up on and get done. You want to implement the new things you learned at the event, and then time passes and you forgot to follow up with the people you met and what you talked about and how you were going to help each other and so on. So taking a few minutes to reach out helps make sure that you don’t lose the goodwill and momentum you’ve created with that person.
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