Everyone gets excited when the conference registrations pop into your inbox (or mailbox) inviting you to the best conference ever in a fabulous city or exotic resort. Who wouldn’t be excited, especially after someone else has green-lighted it and signed off on the registration, travel AND accommodations?
What’s your next step? Check out the golf courses? Absolutely. The spa? Probably. The speakers? Maybe. Why don’t you also reach out and start a conversation with someone? Set up a time to meet:
- current clients
- industry experts
- strategic partners and alliances
- potential networking buddies
Supercharge your conference experience. Others are; you should too. Be the person who goes back to their office with a bounty of great new people to talk to.
Having a pre and post-conference plan can make the difference between a great conference experience and a so-so experience. Wouldn’t it be great to have a meeting or two lined up before you left for the airport? I recently attended a conference in New Orleans (love conferences in New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras season). About three weeks before the conference, I reviewed all of the speakers, the people I knew or whose names I recognized that had also already RSVP’d or were on the “invited” list and I sent them a PERSONALIZED LinkedIn invitation referencing the conference. In some cases, if I didn’t see their name on the list but thought it was a conference that they might attend, I sent a LinkedIn message and asked them if they were going.
This outreach (about 20 personalized touches) resulted in seven touch-bases or meetings on the first day of the conference. Even a short fifteen-minute catch up in the lobby was a great face-to-face. Some were people I trained last year and others were people I hope to work with this year. I call this going from high-tech to high-touch. I started in LinkedIn (high-tech) and moved to face-to-face (high-touch). It’s important to remember it’s a combination of both that makes the greatest connections.
After the conference, I took all of those business cards and pics of badges and sat down to send a follow-up LinkedIn invitation or message. This outreach of 48 people has resulted in four new engagements, two new proposals and ongoing conversations with about ten other leads.
In doing this, remember, don’t sell. Be yourself, be genuine, invite a conversation, ask how you can help them and be intentional in your follow up. For more ideas, check out another post on Great Conference, Now What?. Make your next conference the best one ever.