In an age of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other online professional networks, conferences may seem like an outdated method to build business contacts. However, showing face and creating physical contact with the movers and shakers of your industry will have a profound advantage over the digital methods we’ve all seem to have become reliant on.
When you’re creating one-on-one connections at a conference you are building a truly valuable network because the relationships start on real, physical level.
· You may create a relationship with an industry leader, which may help bring awareness to your brand through endorsements.
· You may have the opportunity to source quality employees.
· You may develop a network that allows you to take your business internationally by meeting and giving individuals the resources and support to bring it back to their home country.
The best course of action when you plan to make networking your main goal when attending these conferences is to take into consideration the variables and opportunities:
· Knowledge – Get to know who attends these conferences beforehand so that you may rework your creative marketing materials and sales pitch so they are effective at cutting through the noise and delivering you qualified leads and networking potentials.
· Go Digital – Paper is out and smart phones and tablets are in. Don’t wander around trying to pass out physical copies of your offers. Don’t rely on printed timetables of the conferences. Use smart conferencing apps to easily access agendas, take surveys, aid with networking, and organize your time and contacts. Such tools, like the doubledutch mobile event app, are solid investments for both entrepreneurs looking to network and businesses looking to track their engagement data.
· People Skills – Speaking clearly and having the ability to deliver your message is a must but more so is your ability to create experiences with others that help them remember you and not just your pitch. People are more likely to remember a pleasant experience over stats being thrown at them. Brush up and practice those people skills so you can be an effective individual at striking conversations, getting people engaged, and developing lasting connections.
A simple three step approach can be created from the former information:
1. Take charge with starting conversations, listening intently, using body language that is welcoming, and keeping the conversation two-sided so they feel they are gaining the most value from the interaction.
2. Be relentless with your pitch when your see the right opportunity and keep it aligned with what value it’s going to deliver the individual rather than relying too much on the technical aspects (work off the emotional response).
3. Get the contact information through whatever means carries the least resistance, whether it’s finding them later on Facebook or exchanging LinkedIn profile information on the spot; after the conference has settled make sure to follow up with your discussion to keep the networking potential going full speed.
Happy individuals within your network may eventually become happy clients. Even if someone in your group isn’t a client they still poise an opportunity to refer new business to yours (and vice versa).
A small group of individuals focused on a common goal, kicking back ideas & feedback, and creating something great will have incredible power in shaping the future of a market – this is why you want to do your best at networking because you never know how viable the connections may be especially when a single one could change the future of your business.