Seven steps to make conference contacts
How to use social media to turn conference introductions into ongoing connections
If you meet someone and hit it off, connect right away via social media.
Business travel should be about relationship building, but so often the stress of dealing with logistics and meeting a whole group of new people can keep travel from being an effective way to connect.
This is my seven-step strategy for using social media to turn conference introductions into ongoing connections:
Before the conference, install a business-card-processing app on your smartphone.
What you want is an app that can scan business cards with a camera, convert the card to contact information and offer you social-network connection options.
If you meet someone and hit it off, connect right away. If you’ve made a new pal and your pal is on Twitter, send your pal a tweet from your smartphone right then and there, before you lose one another’s business cards or Twitter handles.
At the end of each day (or, failing that, the end of the conference), take the stack of business cards you’ve accumulated and lay them out on a table.
Take a photograph of the entire collection.
Then pull out all the cards for people with whom you hope to have further contact. Make this your “keeper” pile. Throw out the rest of the cards.
Use your smartphone’s business-card-scanning app to capture all the cards in your keeper pile.
Open the app and view the contact card for each person in your keeper pile.
Use your business-card app’s social-networking function to send each person a LinkedIn connection invitation.
If anyone is also a Twitter user, click the Twitter handle on that person’s profile so that you can view and follow him or her on Twitter.
If you want to establish a LinkedIn connection with someone senior or well known, consider writing a personal connection request reminding him or her that you met at a particular conference.
If there are people in your keeper pile that you’d like to follow up with within the next month or so, send a personal note to their email address saying how much you enjoyed meeting with them and (if appropriate) suggesting when or how you’ll follow up.
These messages are a good use of your time on the flight home: Just queue them up and hit send when you land.
About a week after the conference (when people have had a chance to accept your LinkedIn invitations), go to your connections page and click on “new connections” (under “recent activity”).
Check the box next to all the people you met at that conference and tag them with the name and year of the conference for your future reference.
– Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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