One of my clients mentioned this week that she was attending an awards event honoring New Jersey’s 50 top women business owners. It’s a prestigious event, attracting about 300 C-level and executive women.
When approached strategically, these events can yield great connections and open up lucrative doors.
Here are some tips I gave her to connect with attendees prior to the event, ways to get the most out of the event, and how to nurture new friendships following the event.
Use Social Media.
All events today have their own social media identities. The sponsoring organizations have their own FB pages and LinkedIn pages, and the events almost always have their own Twitter hashtags. Prior to attending, tweet and post your plans to attend.
Example: Looking forward to honoring NJ’s top 50 biz women @NJBizWomen. DM me if attending. #NJFast50. ¬(I made up that organization and hashtag).
Also, reach out to all of the winners on LinkedIn. Offer them a congratulatory note accompanied by something valuable, such as a link to a relevant white paper you have written.
Focus on Quality of Connections, Not Quantity.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a room of 300 people, especially when you know no one. Remember that the goal is not to know everyone. The goal is to make meaningful connections with a few. My client was going to be seated at a round table with other women she doesn’t know, which provides a great opportunity to establish a connection in a large setting. The intent of attending is never to “sell.” It is to connect.
Adapt a Mindset of Engagement.
How you feel about the event, and how you feel about yourself, will determine your experience. If you are physically attending, but your mind is somewhere else, this will impact your experience. If you are mentally still at the office worrying about a project or a conversation, or you are thinking about what is going on at home, you will not be able to be present.
Take a few minutes in your car, once you have arrived, to sit quietly, decompress, and mentally separate yourself from the rest of the day. Conduct a visualization exercise in which you see yourself engaged in the event, meeting new people, having great conversations, and enjoying inspiration from those being honored.
Adapt a Mindset of Learning
One of the best things about these events is getting the opportunity to learn about, and learn from the experiences of other people. The speakers are almost always inspirational and motivational. In addition, the greatest connections are always formed through intentional listening. People love to share their experiences with engaged listeners.
Follow Up – Online and Offline
Once the event is over, immediately follow up with your new contacts. Connect with them on LinkedIn with a personalized LinkedIn request, and include something of value. Whenever possible, add value in your correspondence. This may include a link from your own blog, or perhaps a link from another blog or article that is relevant to the conversations you had. Keep the momentum going.
Awards events are really wonderful opportunities to meet other like-minded professionals who are open to learning and connecting with others.
Have fun and keep growing!
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