By Joe McKendrick | April 16, 2013, 7:07 PM PDT
While social networks and technology have made it possible for anyone on the globe to connect and learn electronically, there is still a need for onsite conferences. There’s an immeasurable value to connecting with colleagues on a face-to-face basis that cannot be replaced by social media.
Still, social networking can greatly enhance your conference experience. In a new post at the Vocus blog, Brian Conlin does a good job of detailing the role social can play in… well, being social. The bottom line is social media now starts conferences weeks before the official opening session, and then keeps the conference going months after the meeting rooms are swept up and vacuumed.
Before the conference:
1. Scan Twitter lists: “Conference organizers often will have a list of speaker or attendee Twitter handles a month or two before the conference,” Conlin says. “Skim the list to find the people you most want to network with.”
2. Research: “Research speakers and attendees before heading to the conference,” says Conlin. “This way you can turn a chance run-in into a valuable connection.”
3. Spruce up your profiles: “Get it done weeks before the conference starts.”
4. Engage before going: “If a conference has a private LinkedIn Group, join and add to the discussions,” Conlin advises. “Interact with other attendees on the Facebook page of the event.”
5. Check existing contacts: “Networking doesn’t happen just at the conference,” says Conlin. Take the opportunity to invite a LinkedIn or Facebook contact for coffee “when you get a break from conference activities.”
After the conference:
6. Connect and follow up: “Once you meet someone at a conference, search for them on LinkedIn,” says Conlin, adding that “connecting is only the first step. Follow up with the person and work to develop a business relationship.”
7. Share the wealth: “Share your new-found knowledge on your favorite social networks and blog. Make connections with people who couldn’t attend.”
8. Discuss what’s interesting: Conferences may be jam-packed with sessions, but you can’t attend everything. “Start a discussion on LinkedIn or Twitter about some of the most fascinating ideas you came across and encourage others to do the same.”
9. Take advantage of best connections: “Identify several people you had the best interaction with and make it a point to engage them. Comment on their blog, tweet at them, or find them on Google+. Make sure your engagement provides value to them.”