How to improve your networking at conferences

 image from www.flickr.com
As I’m sitting in Vegas at BlogWorld, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how to get more out of your conference or tradeshow efforts. Mostly, I’m going to give you a few ideas on iPhone apps you may want to consider downloading and a thought about how to be memorable. Because lets face it, the number 1 challenge when working a conference or tradeshow is being memorable. You just meet so many folks so quickly, that if you don’t do something to stand out, well, it’s easy to blend in. So here goes.

Bump:    if you have an iPhone, do yourself a favor and get Bump. It makes exchanging information so easy. You just activate bump and you and the person you just met “bump” your iPhones together to trade vCards. I love this because a) it’s really easy and b) it enables the use of the next idea with little to no real effort.

GoPostal: I’m a huge fan of this app. Primarily it was designed to make it easy to send “postcards” to your friends and family when you’re on vacation, etc. You just take a picture with your iPhone, select a contact to send it to and then type whatever message you want. Then you upload to the GoPostal site and approve the $1.29 credit card charge (you put your credit card in once and the app remembers is) and presto, within a few days a good old fashioned postcard arrives at the selected contact’s address. Remember, the hardest thing to do is be memorable. So what better trick than to snap a pic with everyone you meet (you and that person in the pic) and then send them a little “glad to meet you” postcard featuring that pic. So simple. So cheap. It’s my new favorite way to make an impact with someone I meet that I really want to make sure remembers me. 

LinkedIn: have you played with the LinkedIn iPhone app lately? It’s actually improved quite a bit. My favorite use for it at a conference is to instantly look up someone’s LinkedIn information and if they are not a contact, go request a connection. It’s a great tool to use right after you meet someone. Request they link to you and include a little note about how you enjoyed meeting them and that you wanted to keep the relationship alive by LinkingIn together. Again, simple, easy and immediate. All while you walk to the next session. 

Yelp: someone is always needing a restaurant or bar recommendation, phone number, address or directions. With Yelp’s iPhone app, you can search by category, name or just say “show me all the restaurants near where I am.” Be the one who can share that info and you give folks a reason other than business to talk to you. In fact, they might even invite you to join them. Bonus! [LOL note to Yelp: if you’re reading this, can you maybe put a link to your iPhone app on your home page? Just saying.]

And lastly, a suggestion. Before you leave for a conference, put 10 great blog post URLs in your notepad app on your phone. Or if you plan to have your laptop a lot at the conference, put them on a Word doc. Then, after you meet folks and get their twitter handles, look and see if (based on your conversation with them) any of the posts you brought along would be something they might find useful. If so, send out a tweet or email to them letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and include a link to the post with a note of why you think they might like it.

That’s it. Considering it is 2am my time (midnight BlogWorld time) probably time to call it a night.

Oh yes, one more thing. Anyone else got any great ideas or tips for doing a better job of networking at conferences and trade shows? I’m all ears… help a brother out eh?

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Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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