How often do you attend networking events? Have you been to one recently that you were really looking forward to? One where you've enjoyed some great conversations, which somehow didn't translate into new contacts or connections? It doesn't have to be this way.
Social media is a great tool that you can use as part of your networking strategy that will help you maintain relationships.
Here are some tips for actions you can take before, during and after your next event for business that will help you establish and keep connections both offline and online:
Before the event:
When you register, post on social that you are looking forward to attending.
Find out if there is an event hashtag, and save it to your search field in Twitter.
Follow the hosting organization on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other relevant social media platforms.
Create a Twitter list of speakers, honourees and/or guests, and consider tweeting to them before the event.
During the event:
Share pictures from the event on your social channels. Tag the event host, and use the hashtag you found before the event.
Share quotes of speakers, tagging them in your posts.
When you are not networking, search the event hashtag and like, comment, share and re-tweet the posts of others. If there is someone else who works with you that is not attending the event, that person could be responsible for doing this while you are at the event.
Collect business cards of fellow attendees.
After the event:
Share a post thanking the organizers, speakers and/or hosts of the event.
Create or update your current list of contacts to include those you connected with at the event.
Connect with those you met at the event on LinkedIn, Twitter and other relevant social media platforms. Consider adding your new contacts to a Twitter list.
Send an email to those whose business cards you've collected asking them to connect with you further, or perhaps following up on any conversational points you may have shared. (Be careful not to add contacts to a subscriber list without their permission, though, as that is a violation of CAN-SPAM regulations.)
Consider adding a personal touch when you contact those with whom you've made a great connection. Send a hand written thank-you note, or pick up the phone and invite them for coffee.
No matter how quaint or grand the event, if you are investing in it with your time, these tips will help you to make the most out of every networking opportunity. Of course, these practices are not limited to events that are intended for networking specifically; if you have a charity event coming up, or even a high-school reunion on the horizon, you can use these tips to reach out to anyone you wish.