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linkedin networking

It’s conference season, right? Conferences mean networking and education.

I returned a few days ago from American Marketing Association’s National Leadership Summit in Chicago. Local AMA chapters came together and over three hundred marketers converged for three days of learning, networking, entertainment, and of course, eating. There was incredible buzz around everything we talked about and social was king. Everyone was tweeting, vining, and updating throughout the day and evening. There  was a blaze of connecting. Wow, put marketers in a room and the creative intensity skyrockets. It was incredible.

Over the next few weeks I am either attending or presenting at three more conferences and I already have my plan set. What about you? Wait, how will I keep everyone together and NOT forget who belongs to what organization?

I’m a big believer in letting LinkedIn make connecting easy for me (have you seen the new Contact area yet? Oh my, it’s crazy good. More posts to follow).

What to do with those new connections and their business cards?

  • Network. Meet and talk to as many new people as you can. Mix it up, sit with new people, introduce yourself, be interested and interesting.
  • Invite your new conference buddies to LinkedIn with a personalized message. No “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” That’s the default and doesn’t provide any context or real interest. How about, “Great to meet you at the ABC Conference. Let’s connect.” or  ”Good to meet and talk at xyz, let’s connect and follow up. How about another conversation?”
  • When they connect send them a follow up message through LinkedIn thanking them for connecting and encourage a next step, a phone call, a coffee, an encouragement to stay in touch. Be specific and be situationally appropriate.
  • Go to Contacts and notice the Tags on the left hand side of your connections.
      • Click Manage Tags.
      • Add Custom Tags.
      • Create a tag for the conference, click Finish.
      • Go to back to your connections. Click on the person’s profile and you will see their information and it will say Edit Tags, click.
      • Add the tags that are most appropriate to that person. You can add as many as you would like and they will not see their tags. Only you see your tags.
  • Lose business cards? Use the CardMunch app to save time and effort.

Why does this work? The more specific you make your content and connections the more effectively you can reach out and leverage those connections. The more meaningful they become and the greater the chance of staying in contact. Upfront it’s an investment of time, no doubt. What isn’t?

Try it for one conference. As your LinkedIn network continues to grow it’s going to be increasingly important to be strategic and organized. Go ahead, dare to believe it’s a good idea and try it.

Days after the conference I have 16 new connections, but I’m not concerned with the numbers. I am interested in our common area of interest and now we have a reason to stay in touch.

P.S. Tagging works for everything including clients, prospects, recruiters, strategic partners, associates, volunteer groups.

P.S.S. If you have the New LinkedIn Contacts section it’s a different process and is a bit easier. We will be writing about the new Section soon. Take a look at the new Slideshare Contacts overview Introducing the New LinkedIn Contacts from LinkedIn.

Let me know how it works for you and keep those connections happening.