April 24, 2014

How to Conference: Proven Tips for Growing Your Network

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At the end of this week, we’ll be rolling out a brand new conference calendar, which will be the place to find the next tech conference you have to attend. Leading up to that, we’re talking to a few conference-circuit veterans, and getting their quick tips on how to best prepare for an event.

First up is Dave Delaney, author, columnist, speaker, content writer, podcaster, conference extraordinaire and our Director of Strategy. His first suggestion is to prepare long before you get to the venue. Do your research. Dave will often spend an hour or more researching a conference and its attendees. Many conferences have open registration, allowing you to see who is attending. Some ticketing solutions, like EventBrite, include the opportunity to connect with fellow attendees through social media. This preparation helps you maximize your time at the event.

Once you do get there, Dave recommends prioritizing quantity over quality. Instead of running around handing business cards to everyone that doesn’t want one, take your time to connect with the people that you can build meaningful relationships with.

It’s not a competition to see how many cards you can get rid of.

In order to build those relationships, Dave says that following up is the first priority once you leave the venue. Dave utilizes a number of tools to help with this, like CardMunch, a CRM-like iOS application that allows you to upload your cards to LinkedIn. Boomerang is another service he recommends. It brings flagged email back to you after a certain amount of time, reminding you to follow-up until you get a response.

More than anything else, he recommends using Twitter lists. Back in August he wrote a must-read post on the subject, How To use Twitter Lists Like a Pro. They’re an excellent tool for keeping track of people you meet, and give you the ability to group followers based on where and when you met them. For more networking tips, check out his podcast: NBN Radio.

Have any tips of your own? We’d love to hear them. Tell us in the comments!

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