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Life Before LinkedInBefore LinkedIn, conferences were harder to prepare for. We would get lists from old databases about who would be attending, but it wasn’t anywhere near as up to date as LinkedIn is now. LinkedIn is the database of today, and there is detailed information on it about every member on the site. I don’t have to look at a binder or load a floppy disk. I am finally free of this punishment!
I don’t have to go into a conference blind anymore, I can just go online and search. You’d have to be crazy not to use the greatest database we could ever wish for with your networking pursuits. I’ll show you how to use LinkedIn to save time at your next conference.
Before You Hit The Conference Floor
The first thing you do before any conference is ask for the attendee list. It is very easy to access, it just isn’t advertised.
So contact the organizers and ask for a copy. Once you get the list, look up each attendee on LinkedIn, take their profile and print it out. Write a few notes for each. Then identify which ones you’d like to contact. Remember their profile picture so you recognize them when you see them later. It’ll make things a lot easier when you meet people in person.
Don’t worry if this sounds intrusive, at a conference people are in networking mode and are open to conversation. They’ll even be flattered that you took the time to do research on them.
The next thing you’ll want to do is get the speaker list. Speakers are looking forward to talking at the conference, so don’t be afraid to contact them either. Look at their profile, and then send them a personalized message expressing your excitement about seeing them.
The last thing you do is reach out to the meeting organizers. They’ll be happy to meet you. You’ll want to connect with them or even offer to help them out if you have free time.
During The Conference – Make Magic HappenDuring the conference you’ll want to meet people you identified earlier. Go to the networking cocktail nights if you can. It’ll be much easier to approach people there than during the day. Trust me!
When you have built a rapport with these people ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. Pace this conversation appropriately because some people might be a little reserved and less likely to give an okay to connect until they know you better.
At the last night of the conference make sure you follow up with everyone you’ve met for a next steps discussion. Keep the next steps simple and appropriate for each person’s individual needs and personality.
After The Conference – The Dust Settles
At this point you’ve met almost a hundred people! Maybe more! However, chances are that there were some people that you didn’t have the time to meet or were not at the conference.
Send them a connection request and let them know you were trying to reach them. Afterward, follow up with people you’ve met and send them a message thanking them. Attach information they can take a look at later. It is a good idea to make a template for these messages to save time. Remember to make each message personal.
If you follow this process you’ll be on your way to making many new connections for your business.
- Get the attendee list, just ask the organizers. Look at the attendee profiles, and print them out. Then take notes. Identify which attendees you’d like to meet.
- Get the speaker list and connect with them on LinkedIn, send a message expressing your excitement to hear them speak.
- Connect with the organizers and offer to help them out if you can.
- Meet the attendees, speakers and organizers at the cocktail nights. It is easier to meet them there than during the main day.
- Follow up on the last day expressing that you’ll want to have a next steps discussion.
- After the conference, follow up with everybody you’ve met and send connection requests to people you couldn’t meet. Your goal is to create an online conversation.
Result You Will Achieve
Strategic new contacts you’ve met at conferences and taregted leads by using the information available on LinkedIn.
This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.