Networking is important for business. This is something I learnt early on in my career. As a business owner since 2014 I’ve become acutely aware of it. However, as someone who is naturally shy, networking is not a skill that comes naturally.
Attending the 2017 Social Media Marketing World with over 3,000 delegates (aka new friends I haven’t met yet), whilst exciting, it did fill me with nervous energy (okay, fear).
Social Media Marketing World is in San Diego each year. Now being an annual event and being potentially on the other side of the world, you may wonder how is this experience relevant to you? I’m sharing my experiences as I can see how these learnings can be applied to almost any networking event including Social Media Marketing World. As a business owner you are typically attending networking events at least weekly and it’s important (read; essential) that you get the best benefit possible from each of them.
I was drawn in by the tag line of the conference ‘Networking, Discovery and Fun.’ On this basis, each post is capturing the value of Networking, the value of Discovery and the value of Fun.
I can share right here and now, that the experience of being at the event in person has been life changing. With so much to share, this is the 2nd of a series of 3 blog posts I’m documenting the experience. The value of documenting this experience for you is so you can get an understanding of why on earth you would attend a conference in person, let alone a Social Media Marketing one on the other side of the world. (If you’d like to read the 1st blog post on Discovery, you can do so here.)
The unknown can cause fear. I know this only too well. This includes meeting new people. However, I encourage you to look at things differently. Technology is here to help you. Bizzabo, LinkedIn and Slack made huge differences for me breaking the ice and getting to know people well before the event. Plus when at the event, these same apps made it easier to connect to be able to follow up post event.
Key Dot – Use technology to break the ice.
In this case, it is more important you are engaged than distracted. Meeting someone at an event is your first opportunity to make a first impression in person. Where possible, put your phone on silent or even do not disturb. It will help.
Key Dot – Be in the moment.
Take time to consider topics you want to discuss. The time you spend thinking, researching and planning for events will impact your outcome. In saying this I spent 6 hours studying the event schedule and speakers to plan my conference experience. I used the Bizzabo app to connect with as many speakers as possible prior to the event as well. I’m confident in saying this had a significant positive impact on my experience.
Key Dot – Plan, Connect and Talk.
There is something amazing about wonder. When you approach anything you do with wonder it opens possibilities. Phil Mershon the Social Media Marketing World Event Manager at the beginning of the conference said to ‘expect serendipity’. I found this could happen when I approached everyone and everything I did with wonder. You never know what chance meeting you could have that could change your life.
Key Dot – Having child like wonder, can literally do you wonders.
Extra Dot – Don’t forget to connect and follow up with everyone you meet.
(Live Re:Broadcast) One of the most important aspects of attending a live event is the networking with potential partners, clients, and FRIENDS. However, it can be super awkward! This year right after the opening keynote at Social Media Marketing World 2017, Phil Mershon, Lisa Rothstein had an idea of sneaking on stage to present a “Bad Networking” parody. Throw in the brilliant minds of several other Social Media Super Stars and we had a hit! Such fun, so funny, and so true! I’m beyond excited to bring you our Wizard of Oz Inspired Networking Parody, You’ll find Dorothy (Amy Amy M Schmittauer) who just wants to make some real connections, until she meets The Wall Flowers (Ian), The Ankle Grabber (Steve), the Name Dropper (Lisa Lisa Rothstein) and the Card Pusher (Me). They even get lead off the path by the witch Leonard Patton)! Luckily Glinda Anne Popolizio) comes to save them and introduce them to the Networking Team and the Trail Guide (Phil Mershon). All with Nina Leilani on keys! I hope you enjoy this little bit of fun written by Lisa!I wish you could hear the audience reaction a little better, but I’m super grateful that we have a recording! AND I’m even more grateful that @michael Stelzner was happy with our little surprise! Take a risk! Have Fun! Make Connection! PS – this is not actually LIVE – obviously. I just love how interactive the “live” aspect of Facebook is. Sooo I think it’s fun to re-broadcast! If you know someone who needs a networking intervention… please share ; )#smmw17
Posted by Molly Mahoney on Thursday, 6 April 2017
Be open. Your body language is key. Get and keep eye contact. Smile. These things seem so simple, because they are. If you’re struggling, remember why you’re at the event. You and your business won’t change unless you do. A memorable moment was networking parody video. As a Dorothy aka ‘Dot’ (yes, that is where the ‘Dot’ from Serena Dot Ryan comes from), I especially loved this performance.
Key Dot – Smile! Enjoy yourself.
Do reveal aspects of you. This will allow people to connect with you. Rather than dominate conversations, refer to your only presence to do some talking for you.
Make sure you ask questions of the person you are talking to. Listening to them will be much more valuable for you than you talking.
Key Dot – Turn your listening ears on.
Be confident in what you know. This also means to be confident in what you don’t know. This simple act will help you be known for what you want to be know for. It will also help you make stronger connections and get referrals. I applied this logic at Social Media Marketing World and became connected with great content creators, industry specialists and strategists, that not only support the Serena Dot Ryan business but our clients too.
Key Dot – Everyone is an expert in something.
What interests you? One of the things I loved about Social Media Marketing World was the ‘Meet Up and Eat Up’. A simple Google Spreadsheet where you could put your name down and join other delegates for dinner. It reminded me of a good old campus noticeboard where you could put your name down to join a team. Same concept really. Plus many of these dinners where themed based on your interests.
Key Dot – Participation is key. Get amongst it.
I’m not the best at remembering names. What I loved at the event everyone had huge name tags! Seriously, make the most of these. Plus, they had a barcode that could be scanned to access their information.
Key Dot – Take photos of the people you meet. (They are wearing their name tags!)
There’s so much to gain from attending events. The biggest thing is the people, just think of the knowledge base and connections of over 3,000 people…
1. Use technology to break the ice.
2. Be in the moment.
3. Plan, Connect and Talk.
4. Having child like wonder, can literally do you wonders.
5. Don’t forget to connect and follow up with everyone you meet
6. Smile! Enjoy yourself.
7. Turn your listening ears on.
8. Everyone is an expert in something.
9. Participation is key. Get amongst it.
10. Take photos of the people you meet. (They are wearing their name tags!)