During the summer months it seems that there is always so much to do. By the time the work day is done, meeting strangers and discussing what you do may be the farthest thing from your mind. However, local networking events present a plethora of opportunities for individuals and organizations as a whole.
As of May 2012 Facebook had approximately 901 million active users on a monthly basis. Think of your own Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn connections. Of those connections how many of them are local? On my own personal LinkedIn network for example roughly 65% of my contacts are local connections. Many of which I hadn’t met in person until I started attending more local marketing events.
My hope is that this post will provide you the framework you need to get the most out of networking events as an individual and as a team.
#1 – Scope Out the Event Hashtag
Event hashtags on Twitter have become standard. While at the event the hashtag provides a great way for organizers to monitor buzz, answer questions, and interact with the audience online. Prior to an event many of the people who plan on attending will use the event hashtag in their tweets to let others know that they will be there. I recommend monitoring this buzz in the days leading up to the event and connecting with those audience members prior to the event.
When you’ve already had an online interaction with someone who is attending the same event as you, it can often be easier to walk up and introduce yourself because you will already have some level of rapport.
#2 – Have An Objective For the Event
Whether you are attending an event with a group or flying solo it is important that you know what you are hoping to get out of the event. In order to justify costs, time away from the office, or travel a plan of action is key. Examples of objectives might include:
- New Client Acquisition
- Blog & Social Media Content
- Job Opportunities
#3 – Arrive Early, But Don’t Stay Too Late
I like to get to any networking event as early as possible. The earlier you are the more people you will typically meet, including those organizing the event. As a live blogger I also like to find a seat front and center so that I can pay attention, get some great Instagram photos, and participate as much as possible.
Marketing events will usually have some time for networking both before and after the scheduled presentation or activity. Some attendees may wander in after the presentation starts so stick around if you are can for awhile afterwards in case there is anyone else you would like to talk to. Work to find that balance between jetting out the door and staying so late that you have trouble focusing at work the next day.
#4 – Remember You’re At A Professional Event
Many marketing events will provide cocktails for attendees or have a bar available. There is nothing wrong with having a good time with your fellow marketers, but don’t forget why you are there. You must remember that you are representing your company and that how you act is a reflection on your organization as a whole.
Good rule of thumb: keep it professional and know your limits!
#5 – If There is An Opportunity to Participate: Take It!
Audience participation can take on a variety of forms. Sometimes there will be a Q&A opportunity after a presentation, and other times your participation may include live Tweeting your heart out. Whatever the participation opportunity may be, try if you can to get on board. This presents a chance to mention what brand or company you are representing, as well as get your questions answered by an expert.
Speaking Of Networking Events…
On July 25 in Minneapolis, we will be celebrating the official launch party for TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden’s new book Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing.
This event presents the perfect opportunity for the top Marketing and PR Professionals in the Twin Cities to connect, nosh on appetizers, and gain insight from our very own Lee Odden.
If you’re interested in attending please visit our event page, check out: #OptimizeBook Official Launch Party
If you would like to Sponsor Optimize Minneapolis let us know (1-877-872-6628). We are opening up some advertorial opportunities here at Online Marketing Blog in combination with the event.
We hope to see you there!