October 8, 2012

8 veteran tips for conference goers

Disrupt
Last month’s TechCrunch Disrupt (Photo by JD Lasica).

Before you attend your next event, consider your goals

Ayelet NoffIf you’re a social media marketer or entrepreneur, chances are you’ll be required to attend conferences and industry related events on a regular basis to build your network and foster new relationships.

Networking is a skill. And just like any skill, it takes time and practice to perfect your technique. I’ve probably attended scores of conferences and events over the years. To make sure you maximize your time and network effectively at these events, I put together this list of my top eight tips.

Do you have others? Please share in the comments!

1Energize yourself. The days before your trip, make sure you get plenty of sleep and eat well. You’re going to need that energy because with all that adrenaline rushing in your system, you won’t sleep much during the conference. Especially after a cross-country or international flight.

2Be ready to network your ass off. Maximize your time at these conferences by meeting as many new people as possible. This is not the time to be shy. You paid a lot of money to be here. You took time off from your other duties. So spend it wisely. Use the energy from that extra sleep and network network network.

3Go over the list of speakers or attendees ahead of time. Research those names and see who could be most relevant for your company. Whom should you target and what should you say to them? What is the goal of the conversation? Your goal could be something as simple as just making someone’s acquaintance. Alternatively, your goal could be to excite them about your firm. Consider what you’d like to achieve and plan ahead. Use tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare and Bizzabo to learn as much as possible about key attendees.

4Start small, gain big. Often when you meet people you’ve been wanting to meet for a long time, you’ll have the desire to pitch them a million things, but wait a bit. Get to know them. Create a relationship with them first before asking them for anything in return or pitching them anything.

5Be ready to pitch at any minute. Once it’s time for you to pitch, be ready to describe your startup or project in under 30 seconds. Be ready to explain what you do in an interesting yet succinct manner that clearly depicts what you do so that even a 9-year-old could understand.

6Make yourself memorable in some way. Whatever approach you choose — wear a funny bowtie, have an interesting company name or slogan, or have really cool schwag — do something to make yourself memorable.

7Be relaxed. This may seem trivial but I cannot stress enough how you should be comfortable at these conferences. Yes, you’re trying to make a statement. However, there’s nothing worse than standing for 18 hours networking with uncomfortable attire. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes. Stay relaxed.

8Follow up after the event. Make sure you follow up with the people you really want to foster a relationship with. Add contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever suits your fancy. Keep in touch. Write follow-up messages to jog your contacts’ memory.

Going to industry events is not always fun, but the more you go, the more skilled you’ll become in knowing how to network, how to direct the conversation to go the way that you want it to go and how aggressive or unaggressive you should be. Soon you’ll become a networking pro — and even begin to enjoy it.Ayelet Noff is a partner in Socialmedia.biz and founder and co-CEO of Blonde 2.0, specializing in creating brand awareness, engagement with consumers and overall buzz for brands online. Contact Ayelet via The Blonde 2.0 website , email, or follow her on Twitter and Google Plus.

  • Kent Ong

    For my case, I will check list of speakers or attendees ahead of time, scan their profile on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, try to connect with them on Linkedin. Build relationship with those who I think is worth to connect with.