Although tools like Twitter and LinkedIn provide excellent networking opportunities, many of the best networking opportunities still present themselves when you meet people face to face. I still regularly attend conferences, summits, and other networking events in order to connect with people in the industries I represent. For example, I recently attended the San Francisco Music Tech Conference, which I’ve found to be consistently fun, informative, and, perhaps most importantly, ripe with networking opportunities. Of course, as with online social media tools, a conference is only as good as you make it. With a little thought, you can make your next networking event a success for you and your practice.
1. Before: Don’t Leave Home Without Recon
Do your research. Review the schedule before you go to see who is speaking on panels, giving keynotes, etc. By researching these people before you arrive, you’ll be in a position to engage with them on a meaningful level about their expertise and their background. As a result, you’ll be able to make the most of the minute(s) you’ll have to speak with them at the conference.
Similarly, many conferences provide a running list of the people who’ve registered on their website. It’s a good opportunity to scout out networking opportunities before you arrive. Sometimes the person that can make the most difference for your practice isn’t on a panel.
2. During: Make Your Presence Known
Use every opportunity to introduce yourself to the people you meet and make your presence known. Prepare questions before you arrive to ask during the panels. After a panel and during breaks, I stick around to shake hands and exchange business cards with panelists and moderators. Of course, after a good panel, a number of people will have the same idea. That’s not a bad thing. While I wait my turn, I like to introduce myself to the other people waiting to speak with the panelists/moderators. Again, I’ve found that the most meaningful connections often are not the conference’s speakers.
3. After: Don’t Let Memories Fade
All that networking is for nothing if you don’t take the time to follow up with your new connections. I find that the CardMunch app available for iPhone is a great way to do that. You can use the app to scan the business cards you collected, quickly adding them to your contact list on your. CardMunch sends a picture of the card to be manually reviewed to verify that the information entered into your contacts is correct. Not only that, because the app is owned by LinkedIn, you can use it to easily connect with the person on LinkedIn, expanding your professional netword. Even with a fairly large stack of business cards, the whole process takes very little time.
A few days later, I like to follow up with the most promising connections by email. Personally, I like to keep it simple with a short message saying that it was nice to meet them and quickly referencing our conversation. I’ll also follow them on other relevant social media sites such as Twitter and Google+ to ensure further build the relationship.
Do you have any tips for in-person networking? We’d like to hear them in the comments!
- 4 Ways to Add Oomph to Your Practice (rocketlawyer.com)
- You’re Lawyers, Not Luddites: Why Attorneys Can’t Ignore Tech (rocketlawyer.com)
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Expanding Your Business on a Virtual Shoestring (rocketlawyer.com)