• The Power of Networking: Making Connections

    This past week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2015 (SMMW15) here in San Diego. This is my third year attending the event. It is the largest event where over 2400 marketers come together for 2 days and learn about social media. Yes, I learn each year about the latest trends in social media but the gold truly lies in the opportunity to connect and network with industry leaders and other businesses from around the world.

    I have grown my practice through social media, however, it does not replace the true connection between meeting people in person. I attend many conferences a year on immigration and trends to build my practice, but the relationships I take away are lasting.

    To prepare for SMMW15, I took some steps to make the most of my time over the two-day event.

    Prior to the event:

    • Business Cards: Although I connect with many people on social media through Twitter and Facebook, your business card is still an important piece of making a connection. Make sure you take the time to double check that your brand of your firm is truly represented on your card. Your logo, color, and all relevant current contact information should be displayed on your card. Be sure to include all of your social media connections as well.
    • Connect ahead of time: I made sure to connect with people before the conference started that I know I wanted to chat with during the event. I reached out via email and social media and scheduled coffee breaks, lunches, and dinner meetings. Although it made for a busy conference I wanted to make the most of my time and make sure I was able to see and talk to everyone on my list.
    • Review Session Offerings: Before the event started I went through the session offerings and made a list of all of the sessions I wanted to attend. There were over 100 sessions available to attend, many choices to choose from. SMMW15 gives all attendees a virtual pass to review missed sessions at a later time which helps in making my list. I picked my top sessions based on which presenter I wanted to connect with in person.

    Making Connections

    During the event:

    • Show Up Early: Some sessions have a bigger following of attendees which means seating can fill up fast. I always make sure to get to a room at least 10 minutes prior to the start and look to find the best seat ( front and center when possible) to make sure I can see and hear the presentation from the best possible view. When the session ends I can quickly get access to the presenter for follow-up questions, a handshake, and a photo.
    • Take Notes: I always take notes of pertinent takeaways from a session. Although many seminars will give you access to the slides after an event it is sometimes difficult to pull what you need from them.
    • Introduce Yourself: I make it a point to introduce myself to attendees sitting to the right and left of me at an event. I share my card, ask questions about their business and make notes on their card for future connecting. These are opportunities to grow your network. Take advantage of them, you never know if that person may be your next client or your next million dollar referral. The opportunities lie in the connection.
    • Ask Questions: Most sessions will have a period of time for Q&A take advantage of getting your questions asked.
    • Share Pictures! Not only learning and making new friends a great part of being at a conference but memorializing the event is just as important! Take photos, share them with social media with your audience and be sure to tag people that are in them. It not only makes the event more personal it will extend your personal brand.

    After the Event:

    • Review Your Business Cards Collected: Go thru the cards that you received and prioritize your connections. Add them to your CRM tool (customer relationship management tool) Connect with them on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.
    • Take the time to say “Thank you”: Reach out to your new connection and say thank you. Whenever possible, I recommend a handwritten thank you note. In a day of digital connections, keeping it personal will resonate more with people.
    • Schedule Time: For the connections that you have synergy for your practice whether it be services you could use or a connection for referral opportunities in the future, schedule a quick follow-up meeting. If they are not local uses Skype;  if they are local plan to meet them. Do not wait, make this a priority at the close of an event.

    Every conference you attend will have a different format but how you prepare for the event will make a difference in what you get out of it. SMMW15 was a fun filled, jam packed event of awesome! I promise you that if you use some of my simple steps you will make many connections, many friends, and long lasting partnerships to grow your firm. What do you do to make the most of your conferences you attend? Share with me your tips below!

    Be sure to connect with me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter! Thanks for reading and in the meantime stay enchanting!


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