Networking has always been beneficial, but it’s even more beneficial now since it consistently changes as quickly as our gadgets do. Each week we have an upgrade to learn, and each season a new device comes out that “outdoes” the one we currently own. We’re lucky business cards are still being used, but soon enough, those too will be obsolete. How do I know? Just look at each business card you receive. Almost every card will entail a Twitter handle or a LinkedIn URL.
Nowhere is this more visible than at professional conferences. Whether it’s a marketing conference or a blogger conference, social media handles are crucial when one is networking. Social media platforms and one’s presence has quickly become a necessary tool for both the organizers and the attendees.
Conferences Go Social
As your conference date quickly approaches, you’ll notice the hosts, speakers, and attendees will use any networks to spread the word about the event, and it’s sponsors. Even attendees will network via social media platforms using the conference hashtag and plan out their week together. They will share their schedule before the event and make plans to meet up or attend individual sessions together.
Once the conference is underway, the real potential of LinkedIn and Facebook start to shine. But, neither will outshine Twitter during the event. Conference organizers will tweet out the day’s schedule. Attendees will tweet their every move of the day, and partygoers will send “shout outs” and “where are yous” to each other via Twitter. Each tweet, of course, entails the event hashtag.
Twitter is an excellent resource for everybody connected with the conference. Over-use of the hashtag is excellent for the organizers, especially if it’s trending. The organizers can use tweets as current feedback, if you will, to track what attendees are saying and criticizing, allowing them to make adjustments on the fly. Speakers and presenters can read feedback about what people responded most to, both positive and negative.
But just as brands can leverage hashtags as discovery tools, attendees can do the same. Attendees usually use the hashtag after the event once they are home. These are great for the organizers to read once the hype is gone and everyone is back in the world of their routine. Usually good or bad, they will be able to read final opinions on the event overall and make adjustments from there.
Whether before, during, or after the event, hashtags make it possible to network digitally. All two people need are a common topic and a common ground to speak of. When there is passion on both ends (professionally speaking), the event takes on a whole new meaning, on a whole new level. And, this is not only what event organizers want, but what they need. Then, when those passionate about the event are social, more than likely they are sharing on more than one platform. This is then, a win, win, win.
Yes. Social Works.
In the ’80s, business cards were our only networking tools. Oh yeah, and the office telephone. But if that’s what we only relied on now, then the chance to build rapport or have a conversation ends when the convention hall closes. No one calls to follow up after a conference anymore. When you’re social, social allows you to stay connected to those for days on end after the end. Maybe even until the next time around a year later. Talking to someone face to face for five minutes, then following up via email the following week may not yield a solid business relationship. But embracing a relationship on social and having consistent conversations about subjects you both believe in will probably secure each person in the other’s memory and a professional bond will form. Easily.
Is Your Networking Going Anywhere?
Use of Twitter or LinkedIn as the top choice for networking is the right decision for a professional. It’s likely neither of these platforms are going anywhere, any time soon. And, we all know these tools, and more will only get stronger over time. I predict business cards will quickly go away, and all we will need is a handheld device and a social profile to move forward. Until that day, though, be sure to have a card ready that includes your social media presence. Every social media presence, for that matter. It will do your future good.