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Network Like a Pro at Live Events - 4/16/2014 -

Jeff Korhan
As we head into prime-time event season for many associations, consider the following steps and ideas to help you prepare and get the most for yourself and your organization at whatever events you attend this spring.

By Jeff Korhan

One of the seemingly improbable outcomes of digital social networking is the increased interest in live events for building relationships to accomplish practical business objectives.

As we head into primetime event season for many associations, consider the following steps and ideas to help you prepare and get the most for yourself and your organization at whatever events you attend this spring.

#1 – Focus your attention on possible outcomes. Many people think of networking as showing up, randomly interacting, and hoping something good will happen. You have to be crystal clear about what you want so you can communicate it to others and recognize it when you see or hear it.

Here are possible outcomes to plan for when attending live events:

  • Learning useful ideas
  • Discovering opportunities for partnering (with individuals, members, and other organizations)
  • Finding a mentor or coach
  • Forming alliances
  • Nurturing current relationships
  • Connecting with influencers (for content and advertising)
  • Launching a new publication, product, or service

When others are clear about what you want, they can more easily help you.

#2 – Articulate how your association can help others. Everyone is looking for ways to grow their organization. So if you can clearly articulate how you help other members, you will much more readily achieve alignment for accomplishing your goals at each live event.

This basically comes down to crafting a statement that describes two things: We do this. You get this. If you wish, you can think of this as your elevator speech.

To get that conversation going, consider some of the following practices:

  • Be aware. Pay attention to eye contact to know who does and doesn’t want to connect with you.
  • Do your research. Knowing something specific about others always makes for interesting conversation.
  • Bring a gift. This can be as simple as a compliment to someone’s recent blog post or published article.
  • Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Just walk up to a friendly person in the coffee line and buy their coffee. It’s a great icebreaker.
  • Think big. The best opportunities are often squandered because someone is not ready. What would you know to do if Oprah called? That’s the idea.

#3 – Increase the probability of favorable outcomes. One of my habits at live events is writing out my daily schedule, starting with when I arise, meditate, exercise, have breakfast, etc. I used to think this was an odd practice until recently discovering others do this to budget their time and maximize potential opportunities.

A powerful tip for making the most of live networking is showing up early for the event, as well as every day during the event. Go-getters tend to show up early, making this a great time to make invaluable connections.

Simply put: Smart networkers alwaysplan for serendipity at live events.

In addition to being where you expect others to be, consider also being where it is easier to make connections, such as in the hallways while educational sessions are going on. When you avoid the crowds, you can often have more relaxed and personal conversations.

Bonus: Debrief throughout the event. An invaluable practice for avoiding networking overwhelm is to digest everything on a daily basis. This captures what is relevant and builds your plan for what’s next. When you digest live events on a daily basis, you are effectively doing your homework before going home. Here are some ideas for doing this well:

  • Always carry a notepad—always.
  • Use an app to quickly grab contact information.
  • Connect with everyone on LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.
  • Schedule tweets for the following week to reconnect.
  • Make a list of promises and next actions.

Live events are fun, but it’s even better to be ready to enhance your association when you return with the help of your new relationships and ideas that give you a fresh perspective for accomplishing your publishing and media goals.

Jeff Korhan, MBA, author of "Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business” (Wiley 2013), helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world.


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