How To Network Like a Pro at Live Events

The New Motivational Speaker

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

To do this well, while also maximizing your return on what is likely to be a significant investment, thorough preparation is essential.

This is something I’ve been working on for weeks to get ready for attending Social Media Marketing World, the worlds largest social media marketing event. I’ll have several responsibilities, including leading a small business interest group.

Am I anxious? Of course, but when I get on that airplane and look over my plan I’ll have the confidence that comes from planning for success. The following steps and ideas will help you to do the same.

#1 – Focus Your Attention on Possible Outcomes

My belief is 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 to 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
  • Finding a Mentor or Coach
  • Forming Alliances
  • Nurturing current relationships
  • Connecting with Influencers
  • Launching a New Product or Service

When others are clear about what you want they can more easily help you. This is why your desired business outcomes should also be listed in your LinkedIn profile.

#2 – Articulate How Your Business Can Help Others

Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business. So, if you can clearly articulate how you help other businesses, you will much more readily achieve alignment for accomplishing your goals.

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 then 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 about someone’s recent blog post.
  • 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 ice breaker.
  • 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 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.

Smart networkers always plan for serendipity at live events. Tweet this

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. 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

When you digest live events on a daily basis you are effectively doing your homework before going home. This is a trick I learned back in grade school so that I could get right down to having fun when I got home!

Live events are fun, but even better is being ready to enhance your business when you return with the help of your new relationships and ideas that give you a fresh perspective for accomplishing your business goals.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Photo Credit

How Live Events Enhance Social Networking and Marketing

Jeff Korhan and Joe Pulizzi

Jeff Korhan and Joe Pulizzi reconnect at the Green Industry Conference shortly after Content Marketing World

In the days before digital, if you wanted to network you had to get out of the office. That’s where we developed relationships and consummated deals.Telephones were only used to supplement those live interactions.

Live events are where you experience firsthand the energy and enthusiasm of other like-minded people who share your interests and business objectives.

A few years ago it was predicted that webinars and other digital forms of online training would eventually replace live events, thereby putting professional speakers like me out of business as we know it.

That is not what is happening, and this trend – the resurgence in live events – is also relevant to your business networking and social media marketing.

The Live Version is Always Better

One of the frustrations with social networking is that you can invest a great deal of time and yield few results. Thus, it becomes increasingly tiresome and is ultimately abandoned in favor of more urgent business matters.

The solution is literally getting out of the office to meet the people that you are connected with online, and make new connections that you can then bring to your social networks. When you integrate the two, you enhance the effectiveness of both.

Make it a habit to periodically attend live events such as expos, conferences, and community benefits. In addition to building more meaningful relationships, you will acquire abundant material for invigorating your content marketing.

Put Serendipity to Work

Your social networks want to hear about your life just as much as your business. So, if it’s not all that exciting you may want to get out of the office to increase the number of planned and serendipitous interactions, what online retailer Zappos refers to as “collisions between employees.”

This is actually an intentional practice that online retailer Zappos uses, and one reason why they moved their offices from suburban Henderson, NV to the old Las Vegas City Hall.

CEO Tony Hsieh has a vision of transforming downtown Las Vegas to create “The most community-focused large city in the world, in the place where you least expect to see it.” In addition to their own facilities, Zappos is funding start-ups to join their intimate community ecosystem.

You can read more about the social business model in Built-In Social. It’s a model that closely resembles the concept of a small town or local community where (almost) everyone knows your name.

How This Works

The reason for the resurgence in live events is somewhat surprising. Now that we are more connected than ever due to social media, people want to meet those connections to further develop their relationships with them.

After meeting people live it adds a richness to your relationships online, while also leading to new alliances, including relationships with new clients.

So, if you are not getting results from your social media marketing, I encourage you to find more ways to make it come alive. The power of targeted events is that you can benefit from the energy of like-minded people that share your interests and business objectives.

I’m still mining ideas that I gained from attending Content Marketing World a couple months ago. Additionally, I developed new relationships and opened up some cool new opportunities, one of which is speaking at the upcoming Social Media Marketing World.

2013 was the first year for this event and it attracted over 1,000 marketers and business owners from around the world. The expectation is there will be will be over 2,000 attendees in San Diego for the 2014 event in March.

Consider joining us in sunny San Diego. I’d like to get to know and your business.

Click on this link or the image above to learn more about this live event. Incidentally, there is a $370 discount available now that expires this Friday.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

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