Easy steps to make yourself seen at a conference
In less than a week, a major startup event is held in Tartu -> www.startupday.ee. I will be having a workshop there on how to be seen before people actually get to know you using to personal branding. I wanted to give you both a glimpse of my way of thinking and also steps that you can already take that Startupday 2017 will be most efficient and useful for you. I know it was amazing experience for me last year (the featured picture of this blogpost is done there). Mostly, because I got to meet Gerd Kanter and have his autograph and picture with him, but also because of the lovely people I met, contacts I got and just general seeds for future co-operations that were planted. I wish that for you, too!
Preparation and focus is key to networking during a conference
Don’t waste good conferences for only listening and drinking coffee. If it is an event where great contacts could be made, it is easy to set your mind to be visible and get maximum value out of even the smallest event. But you got to be smart, active and know what you want. Here are few easy things to do and prepare when you have a week to go.
- Check that you have your business cards (with the new phone number and email!), that your LinkedIn is clean and updated and your website is telling what it should. Also, check you have all the tickets and information on the program and attendees and speakers.
- Clear up you calendar on the conference day. No final minute meetings, blog edits and other things you MUST do while an interesting speaker is giving his or her best tips that will help you succeed or pinching out time from the coffee breaks – aka networking minutes. That’s such a waste of time to come to a networking event and great conference and doing your daily tasks all that time.
- Why are you going to that conference? Is it to network, to have good coffee, to find a job, to find an investor? To get new knowledge? Make a checklist of max 10 points according to priority of what you want to achieve with this conference. And take it with you and follow it. Leaving room for some unexpected great surprises and opportunities.
- Who is there who you absolutely must talk to and who should know you? Check out the speakers, the booths, the side events, the parties, the attendees (if the list is not available, check out the Facebook event and who is “Going”. Pick 3-5 people who could be vital for your business or who just inspire you. E-mail them, call them or send a message on Facebook. You can either already tell them you want to meet them and try to book a time OR you can just say that it is awesome they are attending and that you hope to see them and chat about *name your common interest point*.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. There is two pitches you need: one for very specific people who you wish to work with, work for or who you want would work for you. Meaning – there is already something you have and you want very specific people to know about it. Targeted pitch. The second is just a general preparation of as who you go there and what’s your expectation that people you meet would know about you (see point 3). Why so? Because as you probably know, we all have many things gong for us, you might be looking for some new challenges and that might confuse people if you start saying that “I am currently doing this but I really want to do this, but I am not sure if instead I should go for that …”. Pick one. And concentrate on the best case scenario.
- Attend the event, focus on what’s there, walk around, make small and big talk. Grab a hold of someone who is amazing in your eyes. Tell them what you want. Ask what they want. Find opportunities to co-operate. Tweet, update status and tag the event. Collect pens and information sheets. Take pictures with your idols. Enjoy. Contribute to discussions. Ask the speakers uncomfortable questions. Ask people’s experiences. Ask advice. Give advice if asked.
After the party (khm, the conference) is over
Follow-up. Don’t just leave all the delicious contacts you got and do nothing about them. Follow up and invite people for coffee. If you didn’t meet the people you want, e-mail them and tell them that you still would like to have a chat. Or congratulate a speaker for an amazing talk. Follow up is key!
It’s just that simple. If you know what you want, it is easy to get it. Use the events smartly, focus on what’s important and I guarantee you, you will feel amazing and that you have maximized each event for your future success without feeling you have to sell yourself or be pushy.
I hope to see you in Startupday 2017, feel free to e-mail me first (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions and afterwards to let me know if these tips helped you.
Have (proven) confidence in what you do, that’s the most attractive point in networking and will instantly make you memorable and trustworthy. – Liisi Toom, personal branding and PR coach and consultant