I recently attended the 2014 Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta, a weekend of learning and networking with some of the best parenting bloggers in the U.S. The event offered many opportunities for bloggers and brands to connect and form partnerships, which is always a big draw for bloggers in any niche.
I've attended my fair share of conferences - from the video niche to parenting to Disney - and noticed that there are actionable steps to take to network like the pros. After a little experimentation and observation over the weekend at Type-A, I've created a list of six big networking mistakes bloggers make, along with easy fixes.
Six BIG Conference Networking Mistakes - And How To Fix Them!
- Don't try to be the center of attention. Know when to speak up and when to observe. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be the center of attention to stand out. Sometimes it's best to observe and listen. Then you can jump in and add value without a lot of fluff or meaningless chatter. I can't tell you how many different people exclaimed, "Hey, I like you!" because when I chose to speak, I added value to the conversation.
- Don't skip the brand expo or meet and greet opportunities. ALWAYS make an effort to connect with the sponsors, even if you don't wish to work with that particular brand. Many of the representatives are actually from PR firms and work with other clients - ones that you might like to connect with in the future.
- Don't forget to offer a firm handshake. This shows confidence, not just in yourself but for your business. If you are comfortable with the person you are chatting with (and it's not the first time you have met or connected) then a hug can work, too. I reserve hugs for a select few people that leave me bursting with excitement.
- Don't scan the room! Look at the person you are talking to, not for someone better to hang out with. Try to keep the scanning to a minimum if you are having a one-on-one conversation. All people want to feel special and important, and will remember how you make them FEEL, even after the conversation specifics fade from memory.
- Don't pass out your business card unless you wish to work with the person you are chatting with. Keep in mind that some people will subscribe you to an e-mail list WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION, so be selective. Plus, it's nice to be mindful of the contact's time. Don't waste it by handing a business card to them because they will feel the need to follow up. And that leads to...
- Don't forget to FOLLOW UP with your new contacts! Preferably within 24 hours. I know you're busy getting back into the "real" world of responsibility, but if you don't follow up promptly, then the meeting must have never occurred, at least in your contact's mind.