In January I had the opportunity to go to CES as a brand Ambassador for Intel. I spent a good portion of my time behind a counter interacting with folks who were passing by. My speciality for the event was tablets.
Even though I knew I would spend part of my day answering questions I still took all the necessary steps to make the most of the networking opportunity at this conference (It’s really a show and not a conference in the traditional sense of the word).
That said, I have come up with a couple of in-person conference networking tips and how they can be helpful to you. However, before indulging in them, I would like to talk a bit about virtual networking.
When you can’t meet in person, the struggle to create a virtual networking experience that doesn’t feel like a waste of time is real. It is known that networking leads to more business, converts more leads, and leaves attendees with a warm fuzzy feeling, but when you use virtual networking, those things just aren’t the same. There are plenty of traps to fall into, from failing to prepare speakers on lighting and audio to forgetting to do a tech run before the event – but when it’s done right, the results speak for themselves. As networking events rank as the second most popular virtual events, delivering a truly outstanding networking experience is one of the most (if not THE most) important programming levers for field marketers who want to accelerate the pipeline and close more business. That is why before attending a virtual networking event next time, it would be a good idea to learn a bit about it by reading insightful blog posts which are known to be available at Goldcast and its likes.
Anyway, let us talk about in-person conference networking now. Some of the important tips regarding it are mentioned below.
We are all busy people but before you head out to a conference ya just gotta take a few minutes to get familiar with what is about to go down.
You also have to get clear on what goals you and your company are striving towards.
In my case I have a new venture that is focused on helping companies turn their employees into a marketing force through employee ambassador programs (It’s called, “Brand Inside A Brand“). That means I’m looking to connect with CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) types as well as agencies who have a relationship already built with big companies.
That clarity lead me to find a great session called, “What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?” which was lead by Marc de Swaan Arons from Effective Brands. You can learn more about the great research they did called, Marketing2020.
Connecting When You Just Don’t Feel Like It
“My feet hurt, I’m tired.” Sound familiar after a long day at a conference? Of course it does and I’m right there with you. But I also know that you just have to go anyway. I had two positive outcomes when I decided to Just go.
Story #1: I was staying at Caesar’s Palace but more of the Intel folks were at another hotel. For the first two nights that I was there, I just grabbed food and went straight to my room and hung out by myself.
On the third night of CES I decided to call one my colleagues and meet her and her team for dinner. I was tired, but I knew the importance of connecting with others, especially at the end of the day when folks let their hair down.
So what was my reward for going even though I was tired? I went to grab my usual skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks before I jumped on the train to meet my colleague. There in front of me was a face that kinda looked familiar but I wasn’t sure if it was who I thought it was. I said, “Are you Tim Ferriss?” and he replied, “Yes.” He was in town shooting a segment for a show. None of this would have happened if I decided to just stay in my room and order chicken wings.
The lesson for you? Go to the after party, the networking cruise or whatever. Things only happen when you decide to take action and show up.
Story #2: four days into being at CES I was supposed to go to a networking event put on by the good folks at The Young Entrepreneur Council (The YEC). The event was taking place at 9 p.m. which was late considering I was literally on my feet since about 6 a.m.
Captive Booth Audience
Think about it, if you have ever wanted to connect with a company, a conference where they have a booth is the perfect place, right? Maybe. In my quest to connect with a few of the companies at CES I found that there were a lot of hired help who could not point me in the right direction regarding who to reach out to.
The best thing to do is reach out to a company beforehand to find out who will be at the conference and set-up 15 minutes to make an introduction. Don’t try and sell them anything; just put yourself in a position where they will be willing to take your call when you follow up after the conference.
That’s my CES story and I’m sticking to it.
Remember, long after the conference has concluded, it’s the connections that continue.