No matter how involved and adept you are at networking via social media, networking face to face remains a powerful tool for writers and publishers, among many others. Here is a compilation of 29 tips for in-person networking that I have gathered from colleagues and friends on Facebook as well as from my own online research.
General Live Event Networking Tips
Here are some tips to consider when you’re getting ready to attend your next event.
- Know why you are going to the event, what you hope to accomplish, whom you want to meet, and why you want to meet them.
- Make your goal meeting new friends, not just meeting new business contacts. Notice which people you like and enjoy spending time with while at the event.
- Think long-term rather than short-term when making new connections.
- Focus on giving to others instead of simply on what you can get from them. Ask yourself how you can serve the people you meet. Can you connect them with someone you know who could help them? Can you share a valuable resource with them?
- Listen more than you talk. Learn to ask great questions to get other people talking about themselves and their businesses. Pushing yourself on others can be a turnoff, but people almost always love talking about themselves.
- When you do talk about yourself, tell stories. People tend to remember stories more than they do credentials, and citing credentials may sound like boasting.
- Take action right away. For example, if you promise to connect someone with a vendor you think well of, e-mail contact information right away on your smart phone. The sooner you take action, the less likely you are to forget.
- Remember that networking should be a win-win for everyone involved. If you are the only person who benefits, then it probably won’t work.
- Be genuine. In the words of author Sharon Gibson, “Genuinely care and be interested. Focus on connecting and look for connecting points. Look for what you have in common that would sustain the relationship.”
What To Take With You
- Bring a professional business card that you can hand out. But don’t force a business card on everyone you meet. (I like getting my cards from vistaprint.com.) Give cards to the people you really connect with and want to get to know better. Consider business cards with your picture on them so your new contacts can easily place your name with your face.
- Also consider creating cards with different designs, different quotes, and different photos. I often do this by using Moo’s printing services (http://us.moo.com). The different cards may get people talking about you and coming up to you just to see which one of your cards they will get.
- Take business cards from people you do business with to hand out when you recommend them, instead of just offering an introduction in the future.
- Along with business cards, take other handouts so you can leave an impression. As Heather Hart, my business partner, notes, handouts that tell how you work with others and handouts such as tip sheets provide great ways to help people remember who you are.
- Consider creating your own nametag. This can become a conversation starter and help you stand out. Put the nametag on your right side, because that is the side that moves closer to the other person when you are shaking hands.
- Order a customized lanyard with the name of your business and/or your website address printed on it. Then, when people take pictures with you at the event, that information will be captured in every picture. So far, I have found one website that allows you to just order one lanyard for the cost of it plus a $40 screen setup fee (lanyardstore.com).
The Pre-Event To Do List
- Use Twitter before each event to look up any conference related hashtags and connect with people who are planning to go.
- See if you can get a list of people who will be attending the event from the host’s website or by contacting the host. Check the list for anyone you know, and note which people you want to meet because they are potential customers, partners, etc.
- Do some homework on people you want to meet by reading their social media profiles on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and so on. Find information you might want to bring up when you meet them in person (something you have in common, for example, or an accomplishment you can offer congratulations on, or an article on their websites that you enjoyed).
- Make sure your own social media profiles are up to date.
During the Event
- Arrive early; the time before the event actually begins is a good time to meet new people.
- Use Twitter during the event to follow any conference related hashtags and connect with people who are present.
- Connect with the people you planned to connect with, and ask people you already know for suggestions about other people you should meet.
- When you get a business card from someone, write something you learned about that person on the card.
- Take pictures and videos that you can share.
- Follow this advice from my colleague Ellen Britt: “Make it a point to sit with different people and go out to dinner with different groups each day.”
After the Event
- Send handwritten notes to new contacts, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and reminding them of any plans you made. If you currently intend to refer business to them, let them know that.
- Re-connect via social media with people you met, and remind them where you met them.
- “After writing conferences and other conferences, I usually try to stay an extra day or afternoon to process and record all I’ve learned,” says Sharon Gibson. For networking events, she usually lists the contacts she wants to follow up on, with notes on something that she learned about them, what they like, and their families.
Shelley Hitz, an award-winning author, is the owner of TrainingAuthors.com. She has been writing and publishing books since 2008 and has published more than 30 in print, e-book, and audiobook formats.
Shelley’s Building a Book Marketing Plan training (priced at $27) is free if you sign up for her newsletter at http://trainingauthors.com/newsletter/.