photodune-5689432-network-xsUtilize social media before, during, and after the conference and try these networking event ideas

Social media can be a great way to introduce yourself to event attendees before the big day. Search for conference hashtags and create lists of users who will also be in attendance and make plans to meet up during the trade fair to continue conversations. You may think the networking event is the best place to make new connections, but they are often rushed and over-stimulating. If you take the time to prepare ahead of time with these networking event ideas, you’ll already have a list of contacts you can reach out to before the big event begins.

Find connections before you even connect

If you’re smart enough to use social media before the conference, you’ll have a list of possible leads to chase while attending. Do you know which of the networking event ideas will make you stand out from the crowd to someone you haven’t even said hello to? This one.

If you can find something in common with your prospect, they’re bound to spend more time getting to know you. Maybe you both attended the same college, or you share a networking connection whose name you can drop. Do your research, use LinkedIn,  and consider all avenues.

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Know your elevator pitch

Whether you’re going to a speed networking event or attending a week-long conference, carefully craft an elevator pitch before you attend. If you have just a few moments in an elevator to connect with the hardest-to-reach prospect in your field, what would you say? How would you describe yourself, your company, your product or services? Of the many networking event ideas you can employ to make yourself stand out, an elevator pitch is an absolute necessity. It’s up to you to share your pitch over and over again. In fact, you’ll need to tailor your pitch to meet many different attendee’s needs. Be sure this is something you’ve memorized and practiced.

Brian Walter is famous for his Wow, How, Now approach to crafting elevator pitches:

Wow! — Stun them with something really interesting so they have no choice but to keep on listening, or ask you more about what you do. For example, if they ask what you do, and you say “I’m a marketer,” the person asking can surmise what you do. Instead of saying you’re a marketer, you could say, “I make companies rich.”

How — After you’ve stunned them with the wow, they’ll likely ask you to elaborate. This is where you follow up with how you “make companies rich.” For example: “I use Google Adwords to dig up keywords that thousands of people are looking for, and point them to the sites of my clients, so their website is where all of those people searching end up.”

Now — Now that they know what you do, tell them what you’re working on. This is where everything you’ve said up until now really comes alive through storytelling. For example, “right now I’m working with a dog collar company, and we found out that 1,500 people per month are searching specifically for purple dog dollars. Now we’re creating a page on their website dedicated just to purple dog collars!”

Sharing your business cards

Have you given full thought to the best way to market yourself and your company using business cards? Think about it – everyone uses the same standard size business cards, which are 3.5 by 2 inches. Many are based on white paper and share the same style: company logo, small print for contact information, blank background.

There are many different style business cards you can use to help you stand out from the crowd. Try square, folded, mini or large business cards, and don’t be afraid to hand yours out! Take a change with graphic design, and engage some peers to be your test audience until you find the right design to suit your needs. Just remember to make sure all of your contact information is clear and easy-to-read, or it won’t matter what size, shape, or design you settle on.

Here are a few different articles offering design inspiration:

At the end of the conference, everyone is going to be sorting through their pile of business cards to see who they remember. If the majority are standard size, and you passed out double-sided, square business cards, or ones that fold into chairs, or grow legs, yours is going to stand out from the rest, making your chances at post-conference connection stronger than the others in the crowd.

Collecting and organizing business cards

One more tip on collecting business cards – find a way to mark each card so that you’ll remember who gave them to you. One way this can be done is by marking up the backside with a note after you walk away from the individual. The only downfall to this plan is that some business cards are double-sided, and others are made of materials that ink can’t penetrate (or will wipe off).

One of the most innovative networking event ideas for recalling other participants information involves a small pocket notebook, pen, and a roll of tape.

If you’re given a business card of someone you want to make sure to reach out to after the conference, tape the card on a blank page and write a note about the person you met. It could be something stated in the conversation like when would be a good time to call or email or which of your services they were interested in. This should be done as soon as you part ways (so that you don’t forget).

Another reason the notebook idea works well is in the situation that you meet someone you’d like to stay in touch with who might not have a business card on their person. Don’t simply give them yours and rely on their networking skills to get back in touch. Ask them if you can write down their contact information on the spot.

One word of wisdom about the notebook method – be careful what you write about your contacts. While jotting down facts about appearance may jog your memory, it can come off as crass if anyone else reads your notes or finds a lost notebook. Stay professional in your new networking notebook.

If you like these networking event ideas, you’ll love this suggestion even more—While you’re preparing to meet new prospects and peers, we can collect and process information on your behalf and send it to your sales staff so they can get the jump on the sales cycle.

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lead-managerLet our automated software simplify your sales process.  Sign up for a 30-day FREE trial of our lead management software and turn more leads into customers with less work!

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Have any other networking event ideas? Share them with us in the comments section!