In Part 1 and Part 2 of this post I gave you the 8 steps in how to network at a conference, including how to work a room. Networking is easier than you think. People a lot less capable than you network effectively all the time. Networking is easier with a plan and Parts 1 and 2 tell you the plan. Here’s your bonus.
Bonus Advice #1
Plan to collect only 10 cards at the conference or meeting. Only 10?!? Think about it. Why in the world would I say “only 10”? Here’s why:
- no one you meet will become part of your network unless you follow up with them and stay in contact with them
- you’ll want to stay in contact but you’ll give up if there are too many business cards to follow up with
- the important people you want to stay in contact with will get lost in the forest of business cards and you’ll lose contact with them too.
Meet and have enjoyable conversations with lots of people, but plan – in advance – to stay in contact with only a fraction of them.
How Do I Do That?
Plan your conversations and your open-ended questions so that they lead somewhere. Plan your conversations so that they lead you to conclude whether you should spend your time staying in contact with this particular person, taking time away from staying in contact with another person.
Everyone exchanges business cards; put into your “Contacts” and into your After-Conference Plan those people you actually will stay in contact with. Throw the other cards in the back of your top drawer; you might want them some day.
Bonus Advice #2
Here’s what will make the expense of the conference worthwhile and make it possible to send those emails we talked about in Part 2 and in your After-Conference Plan: write on the back of every business card you accept. Write down the conference name and date. Write down the key words that will help you remember the person. Write down the information they’re seeking that you offered to send them. Write down what they said they’re working on and that you’ll mention in your follow-up email. Write down what organization they’d like you to speak at. Write it all down.
If someone comes up to talk to you while you’re writing, smile at them, and say, “May I just have a moment? I want to get down what was so interesting about that person.” The person who walked up to you will think you’re cool.
Bonus Advice #3
No, wait, there’s more: 3 of the cards you accept should be the cards of the 3 people you went to the conference to meet. What’s that you say? You didn’t think through the event in advance and pick out 3 important people to meet? Oh my goodness. Be sure to do that next time.
As we talked about in Part 2, call or write your new contacts the next day, if only to thank them and tell them you’re sending a LinkedIn request. Do NOT put this off. I guarantee you won’t do it later if you don’t do it the next day.
If you want to bet me $50 that you will contact everyone later, they will respond, and the conversation will keep going, I will accept the bet. If you accept the bet, then, when writing the person 2 weeks later, be sure to remind them of some way to remember you. But you won’t get much of a reaction, because they won’t remember you well enough to write back. They won’t think you’re worth staying in touch with if it took you 2 weeks to write.
The advice in these three Parts will carry you through quite well. Do you agree? What advice would you change? Networking can be a tough job and we need your input. Please click “Comment” above and join in.