This is a three-part series on networking at conferences. In particular, the Blogalicious Conference, speakers and events will be featured during this series.
I just might be one of those crazy individuals who enjoys attending conferences. Going to conferences and getting to know people, especially when they understand what you do without explaining in detail, is invigorating! My best ideas and experiences come from being in collective zones of greatness. So when I was named Social Media Ambassador for the Blogalicious Conference being held in Miami, I just couldn’t contain my excitement!
Blogalicious is a vibrant and empowering community of creatives (bloggers, social media influencers, and entrepreneurs) who share their craft and services with a super eclectic and diverse audience. Their conference is the place to see what is happening in the blogosphere, encounter innovative ideas and upcoming trends.
If you want to stay in the know, follow my Twitter account
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Before I share those gems, let’s talk about networking! I started attending conferences when I was in high school, but didn’t see their impact and potential until I started my career in education. I was a conference nerd – super focused on conference content, faithfully attending every session, and taking notes feverishly. It wasn’t until I attended a conference with my boss and career mentor that I was able to see the power of networking at a conference.
You have to strike a delicate balance when attending conferences –
learn to enhance yourself and connect to expand your network!
Tips for Networking at Conferences
1. Do your research before you get to the conference.
Conferences can be overwhelming, yet exciting. It can be especially mind-boggling if you are there by yourself. However, no fear! You have something in common that everyone else does – the actual conference!
Study your agenda and plan out who you want to see! In fact, tier them. Have your top three sessions selected with a backup in mind. Note – this would only work if you are attending a big conference.
Next, you want to start following those presenters on social media, if you don’t already. Please don’t go crazy liking and commenting on every post. Interact on a post or two. You can also share that you are attending the conference and are looking forward to their session.
For example, an influencer I met at another conference is presenting at Blogalicious. I had no idea until I saw the agenda. Since we have a relationship on social media already, I told her I was looking forward to seeing her at her session. Had I not engaged with her at the previous conference, while we chatted about Instagram strategies for her one of her accounts, I wouldn’t have this connection now. Small world, huh?
Also, don’t forget to schedule time at the Expo Hall. You can pick up a ton of goodies and collaborate with brands targeted for your business. Last conference I attended, a sponsor gave away mini phone power chargers. More on power charges later…
2. Set goals for yourself
If you are there to have fun and passively enjoy the conference, by all means – go for it! However, if you are anything like me, you have a goal for the conference.
- Do you want to meet one of the keynote speakers?
- Do you want to connect with sponsors at the event?
- Are you looking for others to collaborate on a project?
- Or just connecting with other influencers?
Setting a goal will determine if the conference was successful or not. Make it a doable goal – connecting with 3 influencers, communicate and collect business cards of each session presenter, or pitch services to one person. If you want to make it a enormous goal – go for it! I need more time to enjoy the conference!
3. Elevator Pitch
You might only have 30 seconds to tell someone about who you are and what you do. How can you do that in a sea of people with the same idea? Your pitch has to memorable. It also has to prompt the listener to ask more questions.
For example, if I were to say that I manage social media accounts, the person listening might respond with a vague response and simple nod. Now, if I say that I help entrepreneurs increase visibility, build brand recognition and increase traffic to their sites – an entrepreneur might be inclined to ask how do I accomplish such a task. Bam! Right into what I love talking about most – Social Media and Digital Marketing, especially Pinterest!
Lead with the value and the passion, the rest will follow!
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4. Strike up a conversation wherever you are.
Going into a conference can be completely intimidating, especially huge conferences with tons of people! There are many people that would love to strike up a conversation, but are not sure what to say. Talking about the weather is so 20 years ago. My favorite questions to ask is – Have you attended this conference before and Who are you looking forward to seeing?
There are plenty of locations to start a conversation: Waiting in line to check in, sitting in the lobby and walking to the other sessions. Yes, it can be intimidating if you are an introvert. But more than likely, people will speak and chit chat. If they don’t speak,don’t worry! That only means they weren’t going to bring anything productive to your life anyway.
5. Be of service.
Over the summer, I attended a conference where an attendee was trying to take a picture of herself with the conference signage. She was there for a few minutes snapping away unsuccessfully. I went over and asked her if she wanted me to take the picture. She sighed, said yes and offered to take mine in return.
Try to be of service where you can. Giving directions, recommending great coffee, the best place to get reception, even offering a seat. It doesn’t hurt to extend a helping hand. Before you know it, you’ve made a connection with someone new.
6. Power Up and Personal Power Share
Long days at conferences can eat up a cell phone battery quickly, especially if you are posting to all your social media channels, email and texting. My recommendation is to purchase a portable charger with two connections. Sharing something as simple as a portable power bank will provide an opportunity to power share with a fellow attendee.
You are probably asking – What is a personal power share? Personal Power Shares (used in this context) are the golden pieces of information I receive throughout the day that I may have written in my notebook or tweeted about.. These golden nuggets are what I share with my audience, friends, family (pretty much, anyone who will listen) and how it impacted my thinking. It is great for a conversation with someone that just attended the same session you did. You might even generate another personal power share from your conversation with this person that’s powering up their phone!
7. Remember to have fun!
Conferences are usually jam-packed with great sessions and opportunities to mingle. Make sure you take advantage of what the hotel or location has to offer. Take a swim at the pool, go for a walk outside, or enjoy dinner outside of the conference location. Your phone and laptop are not the only things needing recharging. You need to recharge, too!
I hope you find these tips helpful! Would love to hear your thoughts on the comments below. Connect with me on social media as well. And if you are going to #Blogalicious9 – see you there!
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