The Art Of Conference Networking: From Hashtags To Handshakes

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Entrepreneurs / 12 comments

September 1st is the unofficial end of summer.  School has started, vacations are ending and there is a feeling that it is time to get back to business.  Those contacts and new prospects you’ve been trying to connect with have returned from Cape Cod and are now ready to talk business.

It’s also the time when you’ll plan your conferences for the end of the year and beginning of next year.  As you get ready to conference network, here are a couple of things to take into consideration.

Set a Goal

I know you know this, but setting a goal is a powerful way to set the intention for your conference.  Sure you can use the SMARTS (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resonates, Time-Phased, Shared) method to set a goal (I added the “S” at the end).  It’s important to share your goal with someone to help you stay on track and it’s the whole, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it; did it make a sound,” thing).

You could also be less formal and just take a few minutes to set your intention.  What do you want to happen at this conference?  Do you want to meet your next customer? Do you want to get a certain question answered?  Whatever it is, don’t let it be by chance; set a goal and watch it unfold.

Engage With Purpose 

Social media gives you an excellent opportunity to connect with people (that includes participants, speakers and organizers) before the conference.  Leverage the big 3 (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to find out who’s going to [insert conference name here]?”  Make sure you follow the conference hashtag to get involved before, during and after too.

Once you know who will be at the conference you can start building relationships and learning how you can add value.  If you play your cards right your results will be similar to what happens when Norm from the T.V. Show “Cheers” walks into the room; everyone will scream your name and they will be glad that you came.

Own the Event

Have you ever gone to an event and seen those people who look like they helped organize the conference?  They are greeting people, pointing things out and just having a great time  Here’s the twist, they are not part of the staff.  They decided to own the event–be that guy or gal.  You do that by learning where things are; the bathroom, snacks, events taking place in that town, revisions to the program.  Knowing where things are makes you a go-to person and people like to be connected to go-to people.

After the Show

I would tell you to follow-up, but you already know how important follow-up is to building relationships and you always do a great job…right?  Instead, I’m going to tell you to keep following up.  Get the quick, “Glad to meet you” note out via email before you leave the conference.  If you really want to stand out send a note card, not just any note card, something that is more like a piece of art, a keepsake. I suggest investing in “Quotable Cards.”

They have a simplistic look with great quotes on the front that make them a perfect keepsake.  I’ve personally used these cards and much to my surprise most of the people I send them to end up keeping them pinned up in their office.  Sure, I write heartfelt notes, but I think it the combination of what is on the inside and the beauty of the outside that earns it a place on their wall of fame.

Watch this video now to hear these tips direct from Mike

Put these 4 tips to work for your next conference and feel the difference.  I promise you will never go back to business as usual once you start to reap the benefits of a little planning and a whole lot of connecting.

Mike “Ambassador” Bruny is a Speaker, Author and coach who works with young entrepreneurs and those who think like them.  He helps them Run the Point (take action) from where they are, with what they have.  His latest project is “The New Art of Conference Networking: #Hashtags to Handshakes.”.  Follow Mike on twitter @ambassadorbruny and visit him at

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