Reports vary, but a large number of people attend business conferences each year.
The number looks to be at least in the tens of millions just in the US. And the number is likely much higher when you combine the entire world’s population.
When I first started in the business world it was common for many people at a corporation to attend the various industry events and conferences. As the years went on the total number seemed to dip. I think the reason for this was the increase in the use of other tools like video conferencing, live streaming and things that allowed people to connect.
But even in the last few years it seems that conferences are picking up once again. People obviously get value in meeting people face-to-face.
So conferences remain important for a number of reasons and if you find yourself attending one or more it’s also a good opportunity to engage with people and connect with them on social media.
Here are some tips for getting more followers while you’re at conferences.
1. Follow Speakers And Re-Share Their Content
Most conferences have wonderful speakers and most speakers will share their social media handles during their presentations. The best ones I’ve seen as far as social connecting are ones that put their handles in the footer of all the slides in a deck so people get plenty of opportunities to see and follow.
If you’re a speaker, add your handle in this way.
If you’re in the audience, follower the speakers and retweet a few items they share. Put it in quotes and use any hashtags related to the conference.
Also reply directly to the speaker with something specific that you appreciated or enjoyed about the presentation.
Finally, if the speaker publishes their presentation on their website or on SlideShare, find it and share it and mention the speaker. These posts often get re-shared by the speaker when they see it.
You’ll often find that doing these things will get the speaker to follow you.
2. Put Your Handles On Business Cards
Business cards remain a wonderful way to make connections. The important information to include is:
- Your Name
- Your Company
- What You Do
- What Your Company Does
- Your Email Address And Phone Number
- Social Handles
Keep the design of the card simple, but consider some type of graphic that makes it stand out. Or perhaps you can use a different shape or texture to make it easier for people to remember when they’re shuffling through all the cards they get throughout the conference.
By including your social handles you’ll give people a way to connect that isn’t quite as forward as an email or phone call. Have the conversation with them and get to know them and tell them to follow you on Twitter or your preferred channel while handing over your business card.
If you have a moment, tell them a little about how you use the channel and how you connect.
3. Connect At Afterparty Events
These are very social events so it would make sense to make social media connections.
Usually you’re having a water or cocktail and meeting new people. You’re chatting about work and your thoughts on the conference. You’re discussing the key items that were mentioned during the presentations and roundtables.
Conversations might last for a while or they might only last a few minutes. In either case, see if you can ask the person for their business card or social media handle. You can follow them later and get to know them on social media.
And since most people have their smartphones with them you can ask, for example, if they’re on LinkedIn. Get out your phone and search for them and they’ll likely take out their phone and accept the connection.
Don’t push this too far. You want to make sure the person is comfortable connecting and following you so don’t be too pushy, but if the conversations are going well and if you’re connecting on the same interests and world views then go ahead and make the social connections.
With a lot of the social media discussions we have about strategy we often talk about the online things you can do to improve your strategies including getting more followers. But there are a number of opportunities to use the offline or real world to make social media connections.
And conferences are a great place to make connections. Use the tips above and you should nail down some great connections at your next conference.