You’re probably no stranger to the classic networking advice such as: “It’s not a numbers game, focus on quality connections”; or “Write reminder notes on the back of each business card” and “Make sure you follow up.”
This is all great advice, but the art of networking has come a long way since these oldies (but goodies) were first introduced. With everything you can do with a smart phone, it’s time to step up your digital networking game. By using these four networking tips you’ll increase your odds of making stronger connections with other industry professionals, new clients and potential employer and great suppliers in 2015.
#1 Update your Linkedin profile, BEFORE you go to each event!
If you haven’t updated your profile in a while, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of Linkedin’s new and easy to use features. In addition to sharing up-to-date professional experience and qualifications, you can now showcase portfolios of your past work, presentations and videos right on your profile. This interactive and highly visual feature makes your profile much more engaging. Your new connections will be able to experience your work and quickly develop confidence in your ability to do exactly what you say you can.
#2 Ask the people you meet what they hope to gain from the event.
After you’ve introduced yourself and shared what you do try asking this very powerful question. It’s a wonderful way to start a very engaging conversation. You also get straight to business, without seeming pushy or self-centred. In most cases, the person will ask you the same question or won’t mind when you volunteer what you’re looking for. If you are able to help them out immediately make a note in your phone’s calendar to follow up. You’ll appreciate the reminder notification later and you’ll leave the impression that you are well-organized and you get stuff done.
#3 Monitor the event hashtag before, during and after the event.
Before the event: check out the profiles of the attendees, sponsors, suppliers and speakers who are actively tweeting about it. If there’s someone who piques your interest, why not contact them and make plans to connect at the event?
During the event: you’ll get a great sense of what the popular sessions are and where to go out later. This is a fantastic way to find out where the action is so you can network and build new relationships.
After the event: take the time to sit back and read what everybody else tweeted about. You’ll often find best practices, advice and resources shared in other sessions. This is a great way to get the most of any event. You may also find a few new connections in the mix.
#4 Read their profiles before sending a connection request.
People use social media to share what they are interested in, where they worked, who they know and what they’ve been up to both personally and professionally. Take the time to read what they’ve shared. Perhaps you have some common interests or connections? If you find something relevant, mention it. This is a great way to develop a deeper connection right off the bat.
If used right social media can significantly increase the speed of trust in any new relationship. Remember, people do business with people they like, know and trust. So why not try adding these four digital strategies to your traditional networking strategies to develop new career opportunities and build your network a lot faster.
(Creative Commons image is courtesy of Dell Inc’s Women’s Entrepreneur Network- NYC on Flickr)