4 min read
I have a confession: I enjoy small talk. Yes, it’s true. Maybe it’s because I’m an extrovert or maybe it’s just because I like to talk about myself. Regardless of the reason, I get excited about attending conferences in order to meet my fellow attendees, and over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips about how to be intentional and impactful in my networking. From June 25th to 28th, I had the opportunity to apply some of these lessons that I’ve learnt during the AVPN Annual Conference held in Singapore. I will like to share three of these lessons with you.
The AVPN Conference 2019 was the first professional conference I have attended with a messaging feature built into the app. In addition to navigating through the complex schedule and foreign venue, the app was useful in facilitating online connections that can lead to in-person meetings. Use these messaging features carefully, respectfully, and intentionally.
Thinking of spamming all the attendees with the exact same message including basic, generic information about you and your organization? Maybe give that a second thought…
Are you tempted to reach out to ask people what they can do for you without being willing to reciprocate and share knowledge/resources? Pause and ask yourself how you can be a value added, collaborative partner for that other person as well.
Not hearing back from a fellow attendee to whom you’ve sent three (or more) in-app messages? Give the attendee a chance to respond to your first message before bombarding him/her with additional messages. A good rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours before following up. If you don’t hear back from that person, try connecting with them a different way – add them on LinkedIn, attend a session where they might be a speaker, or seek them out during designated networking breaks.
Please make sure that the following LinkedIn basics are in place before encouraging people you meet to connect with you online.
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete.
- Create your own unique LinkedIn profile URL. It makes finding your profile and marketing yourself much easier.
- Change your default profile heading (Current Job Title at Current Company) to something that tells a potential future hiring manager about you and what you can offer to them (i.e. “Enthusiastic sales manager who consistently increases revenue by over 20% annually”).
Once your LinkedIn profile is as polished as you are, start connecting digitally with the people you’ve met in person at the conference. I was particularly impressed by an AVPN Conference attendee I met who connected with me immediately after we wrapped up our conversation by using his unique QR code tied to his LinkedIn profile. I simply opened my LinkedIn app, scanned his QR code, and connected in that moment – without the exchange of a business card. Super simple!
Personalized Business Cards
A couple years ago, I started thinking about how I wanted to market myself to people whom I met at conferences and in day-to-day life beyond using my employer’s standard business card. I’ve also worked with employers that did not allow employees to use their academic and professional credentials on their business cards. Hence, I thought, why not create my own?
One of the benefits of using my own business card is that my personal phone number and personal email address will remain with me after I decide to leave my current employer. I’ve also listed my personalized LinkedIn profile URL. Finally, I’ve highlighted personal and professional areas of interests that will hopefully conjure up positive memories of my enthusiastic personality.
Bonus Business Card Tip: When someone gives you his/her business card, take a moment and write yourself a note on the back of it including details such as day/time you met, what you discussed, something interesting that stood out to you, or any other item that will help you send a detailed follow up.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake someone can make is not being memorable at a networking event. Conference attendees will be meeting dozens of other people, and I know that I want the people I talk with to remember me. Hopefully, some of these lessons can support you in your networking efforts to maximize the impact you make at your next AVPN event (and beyond).