I’ve just returned from a big blogger conference
. I’ve been to many conferences in my career and have read many articles from “experts” about how to maximize networking at these types of events. Now that the conference is over I realize that something I’ve never read about is maximizing the value of networking AFTER a conference or an event is over. So here are my tips, which I hope can be helpful:
- Organize all business cards you collected into two piles: Now and Later. In the Now pile you should put cards of people to whom you will reach out within a few days of the conference, those who are most important contacts you’ve made. All other cards go in the Later pile. This should help to keep you from becoming completely overwhelmed with all the follow-ups you have to do.
- Make notes on the back of business cards you collected to help you with your follow-up. If you have an idea about how you might work with someone you met, write it down. If you talked about something you want to remember, write it down. If you have an idea for how this person might be useful to you, write it down. Memory fades faster than you think, especially if you are meeting lots of different people.
- Don’t send out any follow-up emails the day after the conference is over. Everyone who attended is overwhelmed with a long list of unanswered emails – your email has too much of a chance of getting lost or ignored.
- Personalize every follow-up email you write. People like to feel that you remembered them so include one sentence in your email that draws upon a conversation you had at the conference or is in some way specific to this particular person.
- Offer something in your email that is useful for your contact. Example: I really enjoyed talking to you about (insert topic here) and I thought you would find this resource (insert name of book, website, blogger, etc) useful or relevant.
- Don’t kiss up (too much) in your emails. If you met a great contact – a famous blogger, author, CEO – avoid blatant kissing up. It will come off fake. Keep it real and if you want to pay someone a compliment about something they said or did, do it without overdoing it.
- When you send follow-up emails, keep them short and include an action step or a question that leads to continued communication. Keep the conversation going to develop a relationship with a contact that you made.
- If you have a blog, write a post about the conference the day of or the day after. Best blog posts are current and the sooner you get your post up the fresher it is for the people who attended the event.
- If you choose to blog about the conference, make it useful and interesting to read. Don’t simply re-cap what went on – offer an opinion on it, connect it to something else (another event or an article), draw some conclusions from it.
- In your blog post include links to any blog posts written by people you met at the conference. They will appreciate being mentioned, as long as you do it in a genuine and meaningful way. Just listing the names of people you met and linking to their blogs isn’t as powerful as saying that so and so had a great suggestion for a book that you’re now checking out and so and so made a great comment or said interesting things on a panel.