Ever leave a conference and wish you’d connected with more people?Or worse yet - realize you didn’t capture any contact information, making event follow up next to impossible?Yep, we’ve all been there.Whether it’s a lack of preparation or a whirlwind event, showing up without a plan is an immediate fail.But there is one thing all wildly successful people know that you can learn from.Using social media before, during, and after an event will set you apart. In fact, it's the key to expanding your network.How do I know? As a speaker, I spend a lot of time traveling, networking and connecting.As I'm getting ready to leave for two large conferences this week - #AdobeSummit and #SMMW17 - it’s easy to see that organization and preparation are the keys to success.Want to get a jumpstart and use social media for your next event?Below are steps you can take right now to research, establish relationships, and follow up after your next conference.Plus, I share the exact tools you need to leave an indelible mark in the mind of your networking contacts.
How ALL Wildly Successful People Use Social Media for Events
Before the Conference: Do Your Research
First things first.As you prepare for your event, do your research. Who are you eager to meet? Twitter is one of my favorite social networks and a perfect place for initial research.With Twitter, you can gain insight into people’s likes, passions, and industry.There are several ways you can do a little reconnaissance with Twitter without seeming creepy or stalkerish.
1. Hashtag Research
Look at who’s tweeting into the hashtag. For example, the #AdobeSummit hashtag has been busy for the last several weeks.If you enter the hashtag and then click “People,” you’re now able to see everyone that’s joining in the conversation.A quick scroll through the list and a review of each bio will give you an idea of who you might want to:
- Begin to chat with prior to the event
- Make a connection with once at the event
While I’m already connected to Joe (and excited to meet in person), I’d want to get to know him based on this tweet alone.
— Joe Martin (@joeDmarti) March 19, 2017
Keep this in mind as you’re making new connections. Social media and conference connections are no different than live networking events. You need to have commonalities and a reason to take that relationship further.Now from here, you can go deeper into your research with Twitter Advanced Search.
2. Twitter Advanced Search
Begin with a simple Twitter review. Look at their bio, tweets, interactions, favorites and lists. I’ll use my friend Jeff Sieh, a speaker at #SMMW17 as an example.A quick scroll through his Twitter profile and I see we have several things in common - social media, our love of Pinterest, and a goofy (albeit dry), sense of humor.Test it out yourself. Write down 3-5 topics that you have in common personally and professionally.For me that list might be:
- Social media
Or visual marketing as in the case of Brian Fanzo. We both share a love for the Adobe spark app.
— Brian Fanzo ? (@iSocialFanz) March 19, 2017
Once you have your list, now go to Twitter Advanced Search and use a specific search operator to find any tweets sent including those keywords.
Here’s how that looks:
From:RebekahRadice “social media”
Now I can see all tweets sent surrounding this topic. It’s a simple way to filter through a massive number of tweets and get to the content that matters.[clickToTweet tweet="“No business relationship is mutually beneficial if you don't know their business.” @Funnelholic" quote="“You can’t propose a mutually beneficial business relationship if you can’t understand their business.” @Funnelholic"]
I absolutely love this free tool. With Followerwonk, you can research specific people, an industry, niche or area of expertise.Just log in, click on “search Twitter bios,” enter your keyword and you’re off and running.
4. Twitter Lists
Add conference attendees to a special Twitter list making it easy to keep up with them before and after the event.I would suggest making this a public list so others can follow it. Share the list with conference attendees as you network to encourage interaction.Here’s the list created by Social Media Examiner for #SMMW17. This includes all speakers, making it easy to keep up with tweets before attending the event.This list created by Deloitte includes all Adobe Summit Insiders. Following this list will give you a sneak peek behind the scenes if you’re not able to make it to Las Vegas.
— Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting) March 19, 2017
Go in With a Giver's Heart
See how easy each of those tools are?Now when you meet people at your event, you have a foundation. You can easily talk about what interests them, rather than simply selling yourself.The goal is to go in with a giver's heart and mindset. What benefit can you be to this person and how can you make a positive impact on their business or life?
— Rebekah Radice (@RebekahRadice) March 19, 2017
Too often networking is viewed as a one-way street. I see so many people walking into a conference with a bullhorn, ready to blast their message to anyone that will listen.Imagine the difference it makes when you come in with a completely opposite approach.To win the relationship, you must be willing to go deeper. Take the time to prepare and you’ll stand out in every first impression.[clickToTweet tweet="“If you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing & upserve instead.” @DanielPink" quote="“Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead.” @DanielPink"]
Tap Into the Power of Social Media
Social media is today’s version of old school networking. Take your face to face meeting and extend it into an ongoing conversation.Before you even leave the conference, connect across various social channels.Do your research and identify where your contact spends their time. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or maybe LinkedIn?There’s no sense in connecting on a platform where they’re not active. While you might love LinkedIn, if they’re not paying attention - no matter how many times you send that InMail - it’s going to fall on deaf ears.Once you’ve connected, begin to sincerely interact with the content they share. This might be sending a birthday wish or congratulating them on a new client.You can also add them into a system like Post Planner to easily keep up with the content they're sharing on Facebook and Twitter.Go to Find - Add in their Twitter or Facebook URL - Click Save and now all content they post or tweet populates into your account.This makes it easy to share, interact, and keep up with them on social media.
Whatever the case, be authentic in your conversations. Because, if there’s one thing I know about relationship building on social media, it’s this.[clickToTweet tweet="“When you take a real interest in others, they’ll take a genuine interest in you.” #AdobeSummit" quote="“When you take a real interest in others, they’ll take a genuine interest in you.” @RebekahRadice"]
Send a Personalized Email
Think email is dead? Think again!According to a Direct Marketing Association study, email is as effective as ever.
Email marketing yields an average 4,300% return on investment for businesses in the United States. (Direct Marketing Association)
Ideally, this first touch point should be done within 72 hours, but dependent on the length of time you’re at the event - this might not be possible.The goal is to get in touch as quick as you can, making sure that the conference is still fresh in everyone’s mind.So what should this email look like?Make it simple, but memorable. Personalize your introduction, share why it was a pleasure to meet them and the specific reason you’d like to connect.Take a few moments to jot down what about your conversation stood out. Reflect on what struck a chord with you and any key takeaways.This will show you paid attention and aren’t simply looking to make a random connection.
Here’s an example:
Hi Diana,Thank you so much for your time at Adobe Summit. What a treat to finally meet you in person!I was so impressed with your use of Twitter and the way you personalize every interaction. You truly have a gift for making everyone you meet feel special.We had discussed a potential collaboration on a live streaming project and I wanted to make sure we continue that conversation.If you are free next Friday, I would love to grab lunch/cup of coffee. (If not in the same city, add in here a follow up phone or Skype call). 1pm PT would be perfect. Does it work for you as well?Looking forward to it!RebekahAs you can see, the email doesn’t need to be long or super formal. The only things that matter are this:
- Be human
- Make it personal
- Don’t sell
A spammy sales or standard form letter will instantly kill your chances of standing out.
Get Them Into a Follow Up System
Where do most people fall down in their business? On the follow up!After your initial meeting, get everyone into a Contact Management System.Whether this is an online tool or an old-school filing method, the key ingredient to follow up success is systemizing your touch points.This involves scheduled reminders that will keep your relationships warm and active.Most importantly, a system takes it out of your head so you can focus on what matters. As productivity guru, David Allen says...[clickToTweet tweet="'Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” - David Allen" quote="'Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” - David Allen"]
Use Tools to Make Follow Up Easy
Technology has come a long way in helping you keep up with your contacts. Use tools to ensure new contacts are top of mind.A few of my favorite tools:NimbleNimble is a cost-effective CRM solution with a whole lot of social power. Use this to stay in touch through email, social media integration and project management workflows.InsightlyInsightly is easy to use and free with limited functionality. It works as both a CRM and project manager with customizable workflows.RapportiveThis easy to use Gmail add on gives you all the information you need about you contact right within your Inbox.See LinkedIn details while connecting on that platform, Facebook and Twitter.Commun.itI’ve used this tool for years and appreciate the ease of use and how straightforward the data is.Use Commun.it to track conference attendees, establish new connections and see what they’re sharing across Twitter in real-time.
BONUS TIP: Publish an Article About the Conference
Want to really capitalize on the event? Publish a follow up article!Use the article to highlight special moments shared between you and your new contacts, share lessons learned and feature tips from speakers or individuals who offered invaluable insight during the conference.It’s a great way to recognize those people you met. Everyone loves to receive public recognition. This will go a long way towards establishing a positive relationship and making an enduring first impression.And don’t forget:Most of your connections couldn’t attend the event. Give them your unique perspective on what made your time there extraordinary.Your insight is unique and valuable to your audience. It also goes a long way in establishing your thought leadership around a particular topic. Don't miss this opportunity.Your next step is spreading the word about your post.Promotion will be the key to getting this article seen. Use the event hashtag and make sure the article written is widely distributed to all your social networks.If you've included people in your article, you can tag them on Twitter.BUT, I caution to use this wisely. Tagging people just for the sake of it is spammy and will lose you friends faster than many other tactics.
Making the most of your conference experience is a critical piece many people miss. Most likely because it’s not easy.It takes planning, execution and a commitment to staying in front of your contacts.It all takes tenacity. Don’t give up before you’ve even begun.[clickToTweet tweet="“Agile networking means continuous learning and talking to people.” @sensiblefolk @NancyRichmond" quote="“Agile networking means continuous learning and talking to people in your field.” @sensiblefolk via @NancyRichmond"]Prepare to win every moment (and relationship) at your next event by getting started today.You never know who or where that next opportunity might come from!
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.