Posted by: waynebreitbarth | October 9, 2011

Make the Mo$t of Networking Events Using LinkedIn

christmas giftI hate to be one of those retailers that already have their holiday wares
displayed before we even get to the best part of fall. But I have a unique idea for this year’s corporate gift giving that you may want to jump on earlier rather than later because, like the man says, quantities are limited.  
The idea is this: Forget the sausage & cheese boxes (I hate to say this as a tried and true Wisconsinite), the fruit basket that goes bad in a week, the chocolates that none of us really need, and give the gift of success. And what is the gift of success, you may be asking yourself, or maybe you’ve already figured it out. Yes, it is an autographed copy of my book “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success:  Kick-start your Business, Brand and Job Search,” Amazon’s #1 selling LinkedIn book for 21 straight weeks and counting. 
Check out the details on the attached flyer which includes a bonus for you, the gift giver — a free copy of any one of my six LinkedIn training DVDs (a $69 value) with each case purchased.  
Enough advertising. On to this week’s tip, which, by the way, is an advanced strategy tip for those who have ventured past the preferable beginner connection strategy of knowing everyone in your first degree.  
I will start by asking you a question: “How many times do you go to a conference or networking event and then get in your car or airplane and say to yourself, “Boy, that wasn’t worth the time, effort and money”? C’mon. Be honest. Personally, I have to confess it has happened quite often.  
Well, this week I want to help you make those events more productive by using, of course, LinkedIn. 
The Top Six Ways to Use LinkedIn to Maximize Your Results at Networking Events
Before:
1.  Contact the event coordinator and request a copy of the attendee list. Many times you can get the list (if you ask politely!). Spend some time checking out the LinkedIn profiles of the people who look most interesting to you. You may want to print the profiles and take them along. You will then have lots of information at your fingertips to figure out how to start a conversation with the most interesting people — plus you’ll have photos to help you pick them out of the crowd. 
During:
2.  When you are having conversations with those “right” people, be sure to ask them if they are a member of LinkedIn and confirm with them that you would like to have them join your network as a way to stay connected after the event. Think of how much more productive this is than just grabbing their business card even if you did a great job of adding it to your database after the event. With LinkedIn, you now have the potential to see all of their connections, ask for introductions, stay in front of them with status updates, and review their full profile at all times.
3.  Try to move your conversation to at least one of the resources you have included on your profile (Box.net files, SlideShare, Google Presentations, etc.) and encourage them to download the resources for their own purposes.
After: 
4.  Review the attendee list and attempt to send LinkedIn connection requests to some of the “right” people that you didn’t have luck finding in person at the conference. Do this only if you have established a connection strategy to add people to your network that you may not know but would like to know.
5.  Review the profiles of the people with whom you had productive conversations at the event. Use the profile information to find a way to take those contacts to the next level. Here are some suggestions:
  • Review their connections
  • See what groups they are in
  • Review the recommendations written by them and for them
  • Review Interests
  • Review Groups and Associations
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Subscribe to their blog
6.  This final suggestion is reserved for only the people you met at the event that you really made a strong connection with. It will pay big dividends if used strategically. 
Send those individuals a note suggesting they review your first-degree connections (or you can do this ahead of time for them and make your own suggestions). Tell them you would be happy to introduce them to a few of your connections.
Try these suggestions, and hopefully the time, effort and money you spend on networking events will never be wasted again!
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