Columbus WordCamp 2016

Thank you for attending my presentation at Columbus WordCamp 2016!

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BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE …

WordCamp networking follow-up for the non-networker.

Ok, so you’ve just attended a great event like WordCamp, now what? You’ve met a lot of people, had some great conversations and found you have some potential opportunities for collaboration, sharing of expertise, or even a paid gig here and there. But what should you do next to take those introductions to the next level?

EVENTSFor those of us who work alone, events like this can be one of the best marketing tools available. Done well, with intent and planning, consistent networking activities can plant the seeds that grow into live-long business relationships and referral resources. The more isolated you are day-to-day, the more important these events are to your work and your health.

Conversations during a conference might seem like they will generate something fruitful later, so many people say, “It was great to talk to you, I’ll be in touch,” but, few actually follow through, particularly those of us who suffer from “impostor syndrome (IS)” (yes, myself included). We don’t want to feel like a pest or, in the terms of our IS panel, “Why would they really want to stay in touch or work with me?”

But if you don’t open the door to a future conversation, it may stay closed forever. Take the risk and reach out to someone who has made it known they want to hear from you! To do that, I’ve provided some tips to help the non-networker, introvert and recovering impostor with follow-up. Keep in mind that this advice is geared towards professional / business contacts rather than social.

ORGANIZE

Hopefully you’ve exchanged business cards or contact information such as full name, business, website, and social media handles. Follow your new contact on social media right away – that seems to be happening more often in real time during the event, so that’s probably not an issue.

Take a few minutes to organize your contacts. During WordCamp, I noticed a few top-notch networkers writing helpful information on the business cards of those they were speaking with to jog their memories later when trying to recall the details of the conversation. Great idea! If you didn’t do that at the time, try to do it when you organize your contacts.

Your list can be as simple as a hand-written page in a composition book or enter everyone into one of the many contact management apps available, like MS Outlook and the like. Use whatever helps you keep track of everyone. Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple for yourself.

CATEGORIZE

Categorize your contacts into headings and maybe even subheadings such as, “social,” “business / collaborative,” and so on. Use this to make your list easy to search later when you’re trying to find someone with a particular skill or position.

Regionally, you have two kinds of contacts that we’ll refer to as local, and virtual. Put more simply, some people you meet will be from your area but others will be out of town, making in-person meeting somewhat impractical. Determine how your contact would prefer to stay in touch – email, phone, social media, text, or a combination thereof. If you remembered to ask something like that during your initial conversations you’re ahead of the curve. If not, then just drop them a quick email or Twitter and clarify.

SCHEDULE

Once you have everyone on your list, it’s time to “touch base” with them, as they say. Drop an email or give a quick call to say hello. Briefly remind them who you are, where you met and the topic of conversation at the time – this will be as helpful to you as to them. Ask if you might set up a specific time for a more involved call, meeting, Skype, Twitter chat, whatever, to continue the conversation you began at the conference.

My number one piece of advice here is to have an agenda – know what you want to talk about in advance so you don’t waste each other’s time. You should have some idea of this before the meeting is scheduled, but things will go much better if you nail it down before you actually talk.

MEET

Well, the rest is up to you. Get together using whatever medium works best for both parties and see where things go from there.

For those of you planning to attend more networking events, like conferences, workshops and after-hours gatherings, you can download my FREE e-short on how to “Network with Confidence: PART 1″

Get out there and get networking!

Gery L. Deer
GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.