A few of us here at Pagemodo are heading to Social Media Examiner’s whirlwind annual Social Media Marketing World conference tomorrow, and we are pumped! The event is chock full of networking opportunities, and as we pack up our business cards and finalize our Twitter lists, we thought it might be useful to share some tips for those of you who plan to attend any kind of networking event in the future – large or small.
With that in mind, here’s your simple 5-step guide to making the most of your next networking opportunity!
1. Check your stash of business cards
Have you ever had the experience of thinking you had plenty of business cards because you saw the box on your shelf, only the realize that it was almost empty? Or how about when you’re handing your card to a potential client and notice that you haven’t updated it since your logo changed? Yeah, you want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Check the supply and accuracy of your business cards as soon as you put that next networking even on your calendar so you have time to re-order if necessary.
2. Update all of your public profiles
For your business and for yourself, now is the perfect time to check in on your contact details and summaries on websites and social networks. There’s a lot of pressure out there to go ahead and claim every possible social network profile for your business when you first get started, but there is some danger of profiles floating around out there that you forget about. When you change your contact details, taglines, company summaries and the like, these orphaned profiles might not get updated. But you never know what will pop up when a new contact Googles your business, so check up on all your profiles before you go.
3. Make connections in advance
For larger conferences and events, it’s likely that there may be lists of speakers and attendees available. Look for LinkedIn groups, Twitter lists, Facebook groups, and anywhere else you can start making connections before the hectic day of the actual event. If you can’t find an official list, see if you can find out from the organizer what the event hashtag will be in advance – there are already thousands of tweets with the #SMMW15 hashtag, for example. That might provide a less official way for you to make those valuable connections.
4. Hone your elevator pitch
Large companies have lots of reference material for how to talk about their brands – taglines, core value briefs, press release boilerplates, etc.. But often, small business owners just have a general sense of what they do and all that they offer stored only in their heads. When you are going into any kind of networking situation, large or small, it’s a good idea to have your elevator pitch ready. Not only do you need to be able say in a matter of seconds what you do and why someone should work with you, offering a very clear pitch can really help people remember you after the event. You don’t want to sound like you practiced your speech a thousand times, but do write down the high points you want to make sure that you hit.
5. Follow up afterward!
The connections that you make at networking events are only as valuable as you make them. Getting 100 business cards from potential leads is nice – turning them into relationships is what really matters. A good rule of thumb is to follow up with social media invitations and/or personal emails within three days of the event. If you let business cards or connection invites languish for months, you’ll convince yourself that the lead won’t remember you and you’ll feel too awkward to reach out to them.
Follow these 5 steps, and your next networking event is sure to be a successful one! And if you happen to be going to SMMW15, reach out to me on Twitter @sarahmatista – I promise I’ll follow up!