Conference season is already underway and this summer thousands of people will gather in dimly lit rooms to discuss any number of topics. Make sure you’re the star of the show and a power networker by following the tips below:
Tweet early and often
Before the conference gets underway, find out the official hashtag or if there isn’t one, make up your own and encourage others to follow suit. Hashtags give Twitter users a way to follow what’s going on in the sessions without actually being there or to share behind the scenes commentary or information on seminars in progress. You can use hashtags to share insight, tweetable quotes, or observations on sessions you attend. If you do, you will more than likely pick up new Twitter followers interested in what you have to say.
However, you should be careful not to overdo it. Remember, not all of your followers will be in attendance or even care about the conference, so if you overshare you may encourage some to reach for the unfollow button. Tweet in moderation and if you know in advance that you will overshare, consider creating a temporary Twitter account just for the conference.
Presenters: In addition to making your presentation available online, you should also conclude your session by providing your Twitter username (you do have one don’t you?). Once the presentation is over, send out a tweet with the link to the presentation and include the hashtag for the conference.
Have you ‘Bump’ed lately? Bump is a free iPhone app that allows users to share contact information, including email, Twitter, and LinkedIn info, just by bumping iPhones. Not everyone will have an iPhone, but considering many people do it is an easy way to network and share your information with others. Which brings us to our next point…
Bring business cards
Despite all the advances in technology, it is still important to have a business card. A conference attendee without a business card is like a rower without a paddle…going nowhere fast. Business cards are still the de facto way of exchanging information so you should be prepared. Your business card doesn’t even have to be a boring white rectangle. Check out this previous post for inventive and unique business cards.
Be ‘smart’ about it
If you work in a visual medium such as photography or design, you can instantly show your work to potential employers, clients, or colleagues by having it loaded on your smartphone, netbook, or mobile device. If you are a photographer or graphic designer, you can have a gallery available on your mobile to show others your work. If you are a web designer, you can have live examples on hand to share with others. If you work in video or radio you can show off some of your latest projects right on your handheld device. This is, of course, much better than simply giving someone a web address and hoping they check out your work later.
If you are a print journalist or work in another non-visual medium, all hope is not lost. When you attend a conference, have thumb drives containing your work on hand that you can distribute to selected attendees. Thumb drives are now almost as cheap as floppy disks (remember those?) and can be bought in bulk from your local office supply store. If you want to get really snazzy, you can get your logo imprinted right on the drive.
Some of the most interesting conversations don’t happen at the workshops themselves, but at post-conference dinners and happy hours. While you don’t have to indulge in alcohol, you should stick around for the informal events to chat with your fellow conference goers. You never who you might meet!
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