December 22, 2011 | Not yet a subscriber to Smart Networking Success? Sign up here
As much as social media allows me to stay in touch with my network no matter where in the world I am (including the two weeks I’m spending right now on the beach in Florida), I still make a concerted effort to get out and be seen in person on a regular basis. I love reconnecting with friends old and new. Here I am with social networking guru Mari Smith at Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula event in Scottsdale (yes, she is very tall!).
While lots of folks like to get out to local mixers or go to weekly or monthly events sponsored by their professional association, I prefer to consolidate my face-to-face networking at big, multi-day conferences a few times a year. Sometimes I’ll attend just as a participant, but when I get a chance to be there as a speaker as well, that takes my networking to a whole new level.
As I’ve said so often, networking is so much easier when people come to you, and speaking at a big event is a great way to attract new partners and prospects whom you know are already interested in what you do. After all, that’s why they’re in the room in the first place! And it’s one of the most effective ways to stand out from the crowd in your industry.
While today’s feature article highlights how to get the most out of networking at big events as a participant (step 1 for most people), if you’re ready to take the next step and leverage speaking at events as a major strategy to raise your profile and your income, then sign up for a free Stand Out from the Crowd Breakthrough Session. Click for more information and see if you qualify.
To your success!
Why attend conferences? First is the issue of quantity. Not only do multi-day conferences attract a lot of people, they also provide so many different opportunities to meet them — during meals, at breaks, after hours. At my own live events, I also incorporate different group and partner exercises to allow participants to get to know each other’s businesses, goals and challenges, and provide opportunities for feedback and support.
Quality also comes into play. Because conferences can cost several hundred and sometimes thousands of dollars to attend, they will often attract business owners and professionals at a different stage of their business or career than events that are free. If you want to tap into a more affluent crowd, it can be worth the investment.
But of course, you have to know how to make the most of the conference to get a good return of your time, energy and money. Here are 5 things you must do BEFORE you even walk in the door to give you the greatest chance of success:
1) Choose your event strategically. Think about the kinds of events that would attract your target prospects, as well as those that would attract target partners, other businesses with whom you can develop referral relationships or collaborations. To find events, do a keyword search online or ask your network about the kinds of conferences they attend. Don’t choose events based just on cost. If your budget is tight, you can often get substantial discounts by registering early or going with a friend and splitting the cost.
2) Plan to connect with as many people as possible. That means try to get to the event for any organized activities the night before and participate in everything while you’re there. At a multi-day conference, people want to network so they’ll tend to be more open and approachable, ready to talk about their businesses but also ready to find out more about you.
3) Bring plenty of business cards. Bring more than you think (better to have some extra than to run out), and if possible, put your picture on them. When your contacts get home and are sorting through the stack of cards they’ve collected, it will be easier to remember you and the conversation they had with you if your face is on your card.
4) Put a follow up system in place. Before you leave for the event, think about how you’re going to follow up with the people you meet so you don’t waste days after you get back trying to figure out what to do. Will you try to connect via LinkedIn? Then you better have your profile complete and up to date to make sure you have your best foot forward. Will you send a personal note? Buy the notecards and stamps now or sign up for a system like SendOutCards that lets you send a physical card through an online interface.
5) Prep your elevator pitch. You always want to be ready with a confident and compelling answer to the question “What do you do?” Ideally, your elevator pitch should include the kinds of clients you work with as well as your key objectives for the event. Share what you hope to get out of the conference and you just might get the help you need.
Now, if you’re ready to maximize your results at conferences in 2012, check out Conference Success Secrets to learn the whole success formula.
© 2011, Liz Lynch
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Just in time for the new year, here are my latest recommendations from the fabulous folks in my network that will help change your approach to success in 2012:
The last time I was in Los Angeles, I taped a series of videos for Mahalo.com to answer some of the most common questions about networking in general, and about my book Smart Networking in particular. This quick video addresses the issue of why in person networking is even more important in today’s world.
Background and Bio: Liz Lynch is a top business development expert, networking strategist, speaker and coach. She’s the author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person & Online, and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, Fox Business News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, CNBC.com and BusinessWeek.com. Liz received an M.B.A. from Stanford University and honed her business savvy during her corporate career at prominent firms such as Goldman Sachs, Booz & Company, Time Warner, and Disney.
Copyright© 2011, Liz Lynch International LLC, All Rights Reserved