Are you heading to a blog conference and feeling a little overwhelmed by what to expect and how to get the most bang for your buck? This post was created just for you! My friends call me the Queen of Networking so I’m gonna teach you 5 ways to network like a pro at your next blogging conference whether you are an introvert or extrovert! You can do this and be successful!
1.Make a list of people you want to meet.
Before you go, see who’s going. The best way to do this is by checking out the speaker list on the conference website and by joining ANY Facebook groups created for conference registrants. See if there are people there that you have followed for years, people you respect, bloggers you follow or people you want to potentially create a business relationship with.
Since you’re a blogger or online content creator, don’t forget to check out the list of sponsors and people/brands who will be setting up booths or tables at expo’s. If you make a plan before hand, you’ll know who to look out for, who to approach and you’ll walk away feeling like you accomplished some big things for your blogging business.
2. Don’t be a jerk.
True story. Last fall I went to a digital content conference and signed up for a class on networking! I was super excited to enter the small room and find one of the people on my “must meet” list! He was a podcaster I had been listening to and who seemed to have lots of connections of his own. At the end of the breakout, the speakers challenged us to try and network/meet 4 new people in the next 2 hours.
Lucky for us, we had a sponsored coffee break just after. So I grabbed my coffee, waited for the guy to be out of a conversation, no one was around and walked boldly up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me _______. I really enjoy your podcast! It’s nice to finally meet you face to face”. And you know what he did? He glanced over his shoulder, nodded his head in my direction and went back to looking at his cell phone. He shut me down. He was not interested in talking to me, meeting me or even asking me any questions.
So he went on my jerk list. I haven’t listened to his podcast since then.
Don’t be THAT guy or THAT GIRL.
First impressions really are everything. If you are at a conference- networking and getting to know people who are peers, colleagues or even fans is part of the deal.
If something pressing is happening on your phone consider going somewhere private to deal with it in a conference environment. And if someone approaches you at a bad time tell them, “I’m so sorry, but I need to take care of this. I would love to talk to you as soon as I resolve this.” Then intentionally find them later. You will make an AMAZING impression if you go back and find them later.
3. Skip Sessions and Hang Out in the Halls
In order to get the most bang for your buck you may feel the need to fill every space on your schedule with a class, breakout or session. But most of the magic of networking for me has happened when I’ve hung out in the halls.
Don’t be afraid to sit in the hallway outside of a session and see who pops up that might be on your list. It may sound like stalking but frankly- it’s just strategic. It’s finding people you want to meet when there are less people around demanding their attention.
4. Don’t hide out in your hotel room.
Some people who tend to be more introverted can only take being around people for so long. I understand that you can’t help that, it’s part of how you are wired. So it’s good for you take a few breaks in your hotel room but don’t bunker down. You’ll miss so many amazing opportunities.
Last year at FinCon I decided to hang out in the hotel lobby bar with some friends until late. And lo and behold who came downstairs into the bar when everyone else had gone to bed? Pat Flynn. It’s cool if you don’t know who that guy is but if you are an entrepreneur you should get to know that name and follow his blog as well as his podcast.
He was on my list. So I got up, walked over and introduced myself and the friend I was with. I spoke specifically about something he had done that had benefited me in some way and told him I appreciated the content he was putting out there. That led to great discussion with him where he gave me some tips on the topic my panel was presenting at the conference as well as asked if there was anything he could do to help us.
Now that is a prime example of a person who GETS networking.
And you know what? I like and respect Pat Flynn more now than every before. He was the person in real life that he is online and that’s refreshing.
These kinds of things don’t just happen at night and at blog conference parties. Don’t be afraid to go out to breakfast, lunch or dinner with a group of people you’ve never met. One of my best groups of female blogging friends formed because a group invited me out and I went not knowing a soul in the party. I was just open to the experience of getting to know new people.
5. Network Online Before You Go
The first time I ever went to a blog conference I had been so active on the conference Facebook page that people knew of me as soon as I got there. They key is offering value, answering questions and asking good questions. It’s engaging in the group and looking into the people who are coming so you recognize other attendees and can talk intelligently to them about their blog when face to face.
I’m not asking to memorize names or blog bios. Just make yourself aware of other people and you’re setting yourself up for some easy networking opportunities.
6. Follow Your Extrovert Friend Around
I’m adding this because I know that if you asked some of my friends about networking they would say, “Oh I just follow Kim around.” And even though that may sound weird- it works.
If you really suck at networking, befriend someone who doesn’t and tell them you’d love their help meeting new people.
In my case, I always ask my friends who they want to meet and when I see the opportunity I signal and we go meet them together. I can then exit the conversation at any point and allow them to continue chatting. I’m the southern girl who doesn’t mind talking to total strangers in the grocery store much less conferences. So find your own Kim Anderson and let them do the meet and greet for you!
I hope that you have found this post helpful as you gear up for your next blogging con. Be yourself, be respectful, be aware and be ready to spend 2-3 days mingling before you go hide back behind your computer again for the long winter.