No matter what the industry, a main reason people attend business oriented events is for the "networking opportunities".... and yet once they arrive they suck at making the types of connections they had desired. They sit with old friends and get buried in their electronic devises. At the end of the one, two, or three day event they look at the stack of business cards (or other list of connections) and are not sure what to do with the information.
Additionally, those who self identify as being more introverted mistakenly think that the social aspects of attending events is just for those pesky extroverts. They can be nervous (or pained) by the thought of having to chat with strangers who may just drone on and on about themselves. But the truth is that introverts are BETTER networkers. Yep, I said it. Introverts are much better at networking (and I say this as an extrovert), and once they embrace their power in this area they can easily maximize the time they invest in attending conferences. Introverts tend to ask questions and listen better. When you learn about others you have a higher opportunity of being able to discover ways to establish an ongoing connection and help each other succeed.
Meeting someone once does NOT make them part of your network. Meeting someone once makes them "someone you have met once". There is a big difference between people you have met once and those with whom you cultivate a long-term and meaningful relationship. But you have to start somewhere!
For those at Austin's Blogathon there are three things that we can all do to make today a better event (and it is already GREAT...as Ilene and her team have done an amazing job in coordinating).
Three Tips for Networking at Blogathon
1. Do not sit with your closest friends in the room. Look at your friends and say "I love you, you are the coolest, and I appreciate our relationship.... but I am going to move to another table with people I do not already know". Putting yourself at tables with strangers who are not part of your inner-circle will expose you to new creative minds that can inspire you in ways you never imagined.
2. Say hello to people. There is POWER in the world "HELLO". Others might be shy, but they are happy when you smile at them and say "hi". Nobody who invested time to come to Blogathon is an asshole (okay, nobody might be an overstatement). Greet people and ask them questions. Listen to them. And be aware of the difference between a chat and a meaningful conversation.
3. Plan for the follow-up. When you have one (or more) of those meaningful talks, embrace the idea of following up with the person. Follow-up does not happen by accident, someone has to "own the follow-up". It is like dating... if one person does not ask for the first date, second date, etc... there is no relationship. Be sure to get a business card or other contact tool (be respectful, as not everyone like to "Bump" or Google Search you later. Business cards are still a useful tool, but if you did not bring any (or are freakishly opposed to business cards), find a way to make sure you both can get the needed info.
If you read this while at Blogathon I hope we meet. Come and say "Hello".
Have A Great Day.