Business Networking doesn’t begin when you arrive at the conference
Before leaving for an event, networking lunch or conference (see our pubcon seo conference post) have your goals outlined and script prepared. Know who you should contact and be ready to help them. Also, If you are at an event and are not professional there is a possibility that your bad antics will be video recorded and shared online. Always assume that video cameras are running at any event and don’t do anything you wouldn’t want taped.
At the conference lunch, or event meal, don’t describe what you do, how well you do it, how many awards you’ve received for doing it, and how you can do it for me if I’d sign a contract. Ask questions and be thoughtful of people’s responses. It’s the ultimate way to learn, and allows you the opportunity to actually contribute something of value to the conversation. Value gets remembered, verbal diarrhea simply gets recalled (not in a good way).
Approach Speakers Before Their Presentation
Instead of being one of the hundred people going up to the speaker at the end of the speech, talk to them beforehand. Find the speaker before they go on stage, introduce yourself and write on your business card that you were the one who introduced yourself before the talk. You will be remembered.
Do Something Original
Try to hand them something besides a boring piece of cardboard for your business card to optimize your memorability. If you’re creative enough to give something they will remember, chances are that person will want to do some business with you.
Don’t Immediately Friend Them
After meeting someone, if you immediately add them to your Facebook page they may feel like you are stalking them. People under 24 may have no problem with this, but most others will. It is ok to follow their Twitter stream, but be wary of more personal social networking tools, including LinkedIn. Establish some meaningful communication before trying to become digital pals.
Manage Your Personal Brand
If your personal or professional brand isn’t portrayed online the way you would like it to be, it’s not the social network’s fault. It’s not Facebook’s fault, it’s not LinkedIn’s fault, it’s not YouTube’s fault, it’s not Twitter’s fault — It’s probably your fault. Make sure to keep online appearances as you want them to be and maintain professional updates with social network websites.
Read Peter Shankman discuss his 5 ways of making networking work for you.