Attending conferences is one of the most popular and personally rewarding ways for event professionals to gain education and insight into a constantly evolving industry. It is also an amazing way to meet colleagues and develop important business relationships.
Many people think that the bulk of networking at conferences takes place during the actual event, but that’s not necessarily the case. When you’re at a conference, opportunities abound, yet time is limited. How do you overcome this? You must realize that much of network building has to happen after the event is over. Let’s talk about how can you maximize the time you spent at the conference after you return home.
First, reflect on what your goals were for attending in the first place. Did you want to book business? Introduce yourself to a new venue? Was your aim to meet those in the industry in a position to refer business to you? Expose yourself to new talents? Determine what results you anticipated so you can develop a plan for your next steps.
Next, revisit those with whom you connected. Ideally, you collected business cards along the way. While you may not hand out cards often yourself unless asked, you should request them or put names and contact information in your phone. Add notes to the card or electronic entries to remind you how and why you planned to follow up.
Start by getting social “virtually.” Follow all of your new contacts on LinkedIn, then visit their Instagram and Facebook profiles to see if they are appropriate platforms for business networking. After you connect via social media, prioritize getting in touch immediately. The key is to catch people as soon as they get back to the office. Ideally, follow up with everyone within 24 hours if possible.
“Follow all of your new contacts on LinkedIn, then visit their Instagram and Facebook profiles to see if they are appropriate platforms for business networking.”
Your post-conference goals should be to 1) make sure you are moving the relationships along and 2) bring value to the relationships. You can find great, customizable email drafts for a variety of post-networking scenarios on Hubspot. Remember to have patience, especially after a big conference when everyone is experiencing different degrees of catching up.
Even before you attend a conference, have your post-event strategy in mind. Maximize your time by collecting as many prospective contacts as you can and reserve the 24 hours after the conference for high quality business building follow up!
Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, a wedding PR agency that works with wedding professionals here, there and everywhere. She’s a long-time industry writer, sought after speaker and unapologetic cat lady.