How to network

16 04 2010

So you’ve chosen your target conference, secured a speaking slot and delivered a stellar, perfectly prepared presentation. Mission accomplished, right?

Not quite. Your speaking engagement is just the start, don’t be one of those speakers that flies in, delivers their presentation and then flies out. Half of the value for the delegates and indeed you as a speaker is the networking opportunities and the ability to generate solid leads. In fact for many, networking is the primary reason they attend events.

Generally when people try to network at conferences, it involves wandering around aimlessly, reading a few nametags, drinking lots of bad coffee and then giving up, only to later claim that there was no one worth speaking to and the networking potential was poor. This is because they had no networking plan, and like most everything else in life and business – even networking works better with a plan.

Work out in advance what you would like to achieve in terms of networking with the help of your marketing, PR and sales teams. Setting yourself clear and measurable objectives, whether you’re speaking or attending as a delegate will help you take advantage of the great networking potential conferences provide and get the full benefit from a speaking platform.

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We’ve come up with a list of suggested networking goals and their respective actions to help you make the best of your time at an event:

Sales leads
Get a list of confirmed delegates and speakers from the organiser and identify potential sales targets. Seek out these targets at the event, or see if it’s possible to get a free delegate pass for a member of the sales team to accompany you. Set yourself a realistic target (meeting between 3 and 5 targets) and ask the marketing team for case study material that’s relevant to each of these targets so you have something to talk about (and remember to take it with you!).

Making useful contacts
Use the same delegate and speaker list to find identify anyone else that might be worth meeting, such as influencers, key industry figures, useful suppliers or existing customers. Get input from your own teams (PR, sales, public affairs etc.) for guidance on which contacts would be useful to make.

Meet the media
Ask the organiser for a confirmed press list and have your PR or media relations team contact relevant journalists to set up media briefings for you. Make the media relations team responsible for following up and reporting on any resulting coverage.

By following a simple and manageable plan such as this, you have a much greater chance of getting real value and ROI from a speaking enagement.


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