Whether you’re attending a local event for bloggers, a blog conference or a virtual Twitter chat, there’s networking to be had in real life and the digital space. Some people thrive in a networking environment, but many of us suck it up because we have to and can probably think of a million places we’d rather be. I’ve grown more comfortable with the fact that networking is crucial to growing awareness around my blog, but that doesn’t make each event any easier.
I get so focused on not being awkward; not forgetting my business cards or trying to remember names that I’m spent by the time I leave. I move onto my next thought quickly (“Let me get in my pjs and eat dinner immediately!”) and a few days later, realize I haven’t given that event I attended the proper post-event attention.
One major thing I’ve learned is that post-event follow-up can be your biggest opportunity to shine in making a solid connection with a brand or another blogger. Beyond that, reflection time after an event makes sure you have the space to think about what you learned, who you met, ideas that came to you and what exactly to follow up on.
That being said, here are a few tips I try to follow to keep my connections strong following an event – and a couple of tips for pre-event prep to expedite that post-event process too:
- Do your research beforehand: Prep everything you need for a great event before you leave for it. Get directions to the venue. Stock your business cards. Get all the proper social media handles and hashtags for the event (sometimes there are many hashtags. Stick to the main one or two.) If you can, take a look through the guest list and jot down a list of brands or other bloggers you want to be sure and meet.
- Update your media kit: Take a few minutes to update your media kit with latest stats, any new press or project highlights and especially your rates. I try to do this once a month, but an event is a great excuse to make sure it gets done.
- Get contact info: When you’re at the event (online or in real life), make sure you get their business card or at the very least, a Twitter/social media handle for you to follow. Follow anyone you meet (or make a private Twitter list for that particular event. For example, I have ones for every IFB conference I’ve been to that includes Twitter handles for every brand, sponsor, blogger and speaker I met or wanted to connect with at that IFBcon.)
- The 5-minute ‘debrief’: I wish I could remember the article to link to, but I recently read a really great post on how one writer makes sure to find a quiet place to jot down notes immediately following an event. What were my favorite parts of the event (and what did I not like)? Who did I meet? What did I learn? What/who do I need to follow up with? Those are the kinds of things to think through. Do it right away when the event is fresh in your mind! I will try and find a quiet spot in the lobby, in my car or close my laptop after an event, pull my pen & notebook out & work through all of these.
- Make a list of follow-ups / to-dos: Also to be done in that 5-minute debrief; make a list of everyone and everything you need to follow up with. Did you promise to send a link to someone, or connect them with someone else? Write it down before you forget!
- Tweet them: This can be done in the 5-minute debrief as well. Let each person you met know that you appreciated meeting them – and make sure to add a personal touch, like a compliment on what they wore or a promise to follow up with and article you promised to send them.
- Send a quick but thoughtful email: If Twitter isn’t your thing (and even if it is), sending a quick but thoughtful email is a great way to stay connected. That’s when you can send over any links you promised, make connections for them with other people you know, send your media kit or set up a call or meeting to chat more.
- Mail thank-you notes: If a speaker, sponsor or fellow event attendee really left a great impression on you, don’t hesitate to ask for a mailing address and send them a handwritten thank you note. Those are so rare nowadays that it’s now a perfect way to stand out above the crowd!
- Set deadlines: Giving yourself deadlines for follow-up are so helpful in making sure you do that follow-up in a timely, relevant manner. It’ll be tough for a sponsor brand, speaker or busy blogger to make that mental connection if you send them a “Hey, nice to meet you!” email months after an event. The 5-minute debrief is a good place to start, and any follow-up emails and tasks you promised should be done within a week (as should any recap posts highlighting the event and what you wore.)
- Take more time to reflect & brainstorm: I get so energized and inspired by Twitter chats or speakers at conferences, but a lot of the ideas I get from them never see the light of day. If you’re in the same boat, carve out time in your schedule in the couple of weeks after an event for idea brainstorming. I often just add the idea to my to-do list then plug it into my calendar for some quality brainstorming time later on.
Any other tips you have for networking following an online or in-person event?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]