To get the most out of attending a professional conference, you’ve got to do your pre-work. I know that you’re busy. I know that you barely have time to think about the clothes you’re going to pack let alone think about doing extra work before your airplane even leaves the ground. But if you knew that by putting in a few minutes spread across each week leading up to your conference could help you make connections that will be of lasting benefit to you personally and professionally for years , would you be interested? If so, read on.
You can use LinkedIn and Twitter to break the ice with other conference attendees and get to know them a little bit. It only takes a few minutes at a time to check these two platforms and contribute to the conversations.
Doing your pre-work on LinkedIn
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you need to create one now. For me, LinkedIn has been the most useful social media platform for building my professional network. It’s easy, it’s unobtrusive, and you don’t have to log into it every day to update your status. (well, you could if you wanted too!)
Once you are on LinkedIn, join groups associated with whoever is hosting the conference. Usually the conference is put on by a professional group, and industry leader, or a group of industry leaders. To find these groups, enter keyword into the Search box, and make sure the drop down says Groups before you click the search button.
Once you are in the group, look for discussions about the conference and join in. If there isn’t a discussion about the conference, start one! Great discussion starters are:
Can anyone recommend a good hotel near the conference location?
I’m flying in to [conference city] the night before the conference. What’s the best place in town for good [your favorite food]?
Are there any speakers at [conference] that I shouldn’t miss seeing?
When people respond to you, send them a connection notice with a customized message thanking them for their response and asking a follow up question. Keep the conversations moving. Once you get to know people, you can suggest meeting up at the conference.
Doing your pre-work on Twitter
Most conferences now designate a Twitter hash tag that everyone can use to share information and talk about the conference. Find out what your conferences hash tag is. You can often find it right on the main conference page. If you don’t see it there, go to Twitter and do a search on the conference names and acronyms. For example, I’m attending ASTD International Conference and Exposition in May 2012. The hash tag is #ASTD2012. If I didn’t know that, I might go to Twitter and search on ASTD, ASTDICE, conference, Denver, etc. If anyone is tweeting about this conference, their tweet is likely to show up in a search on at least one of those terms. Only search on one term at a time.
Once you’ve found the hash tag, it’s time to start tweeting. You can start slow if you want, retweet something first. When you get a bit braver, reply to a tweet. And finally, start tweeting yourself. Tweet about a speaker you like, or tweet that you’re going to the conference. If you need ideas, do a search on the hashtag #conference and see what kind of things other people are saying about their conferences. When you feel ready, start tweeting directly to people, such as:
@KellyPhillipsNC see you in the Expo at #ASTD2012!
One important thing you MUST do is to have a clear face shot of yourself on your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Even the attendees that you don’t connect with online will be lurking and watching the conversations and Twitter stream. They’ll see your name and picture go by, and if they see you at the conference it will be much easier to start up a conversation with them because you’ll be familiar to them.
I encourage you to give it a try. Just a small amount of time and attention to pre-conference social media can turn your conference experience into a networking boosting adventure!
Kelly: So tell me about this defining experience. How did it come about?
Michele: Many of us will be attending that same ASTD conference this year. We plan reconnect with our group from last year as well as to grow the group with new attendees looking to not only enhance their conference experience but also build a lasting support system. We will repeat the same practice of impromptu dinners as well as some organized group gathers. This year we are also partnering with Legacy Business Cultures to host a Tweetup. It will be a great way to meet people, utilize social media outreach, and practice our mantra of “fun AND professional”.
Kelly: It’s great that you were able to do this, but do you think it was a fluke? Could you (or anyone else) repeat this experience and create such a strong network at some other time or place?
Kelly: I hear you’ll be giving away big secrets during this teleseminar, true?
Michele: Yes! During my teleseminar I will not only give listeners a more complete RFN history but I will provide them with the tools and tips necessary to make all their future meetings and conference, big or small, the ability to become a valuable experience from a social networking standpoint. It’s FREE, so there’s no excuse not to attend!
Kelly: Thanks for talking with me Michele! By sharing your experience and your networking methods, I know you’ll help a lot of people to build that network they’ve been wanting.
You can register and download the recording of Michele’s FREE teleseminar “Once Upon A Time: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Networking and Social Media” at http://meggin.com/onceupon.php.
|Image by jugbo via Flickr|
As we enter into the start of presidential election season,election keywords and candidates names are all over social media platforms. TheWashington Post even published Hashtag guide for the 2012 election But does having a presence in social mediahelp in a presidential election? Can those Likes and retweets and trending numberstranslate into putting a candidate into public office?
Many of us have signed up with Twitter, excited to be “out there”, ready to send our first Tweet and get on board with this social media thing, only to realize we had no idea how to read or keep up with the Twitter streams passing through our Twitter home page. How in the heck to you figure out which reply goes with which original tweet anyway???? Well, it’s about to get easier!
Twitter announced yesterday that they have gotten the message and are simplifying the interface, adding in new features, and standardizing across platforms. All to make our Tweeting lives easier! The new tabbed interface has been launched in the mobile applications and will soon be seen on Twitter.com.
Visit the Fly.Twitter website to read all about the new tab interface, and scroll to the bottom to download the Twitter app for your Android or iPhone.
Another great place to get the latest Twitter news is their main blog at http://blog.twitter.com/.
Make sure you follow us at @RFN for news and updates on using Social media for real. We take fun serious!
Are you a Lifeclasser? If you are, over the past month you’ve experienced a new depth and dimension in TV watching through Social Media. I’ve always admired Oprah Winfrey for her ability to grow from poor and humble beginnings into the most successful women in business and entertainment. And just a few months after her final season of the long-running Oprah Winfrey show, she is again breaking new ground.
Oprah’s Lifeclass is a daily, hour-long series that ran for one month. The show featured Oprah talking about the lessons she learned during her years on the show, highlighted by clips and interviews with past guests. But being Oprah, she took it one step further with an ingenious use of Social Media.
Not only did viewers get to see the one-hour pre-taped show every night, but when the show was over they logged onto Facebook or Oprah.com and got to actively participate in a conversation with Oprah, a special guest, live audience members, and other online participants.
It was Oprah like you’ve never seen her. Live from LA in her OWN studio. Not censored, not edited. She made mistakes. She laughed at herself. Freed from the constraints of television, we got to see Oprah in a way that was more “real” than ever before. But better than that, you could talk with her, not just listen to her. There were several ways to participate:
Facebook: Under the live video feed was a live Facebook chat feed. If you wanted to make a comment, you typed it in and Oprah watched the comments on a screen in the studio. During the webcast she would often call out comments that she liked, within second of them being posted. (I’m sure her staff was feeding the good comments to the screen, because that feed was moving so fast even I couldn’t keep up with it!)
Twitter: Each day a homework question was posted on the website, and you connected with your Twitter account to submit your answer. You could also tweet out your comments with the hash tag #oprahslifeclass.
Oprah.com: On the website, you had an online journal where you could take notes, and toward the end of the semester, an interactive map appeared so you could view where other Lifeclassers were making comments from, geographically.
Skype: If you wanted to talk to Oprah, you could instantly Skype in and talk to a producer, who might put you on live with Oprah.
Oprah and her team put the tools in place to use Social Media in conjunction with their show, but it was the viewers (when I checked in on Facebook for the last class, over 7k people had checked in before me) who really made it work. They became a social community, sending supportive and insightful comments to the volunteers brave enough to Skype in and talk about their issues. They reposted some of the profound phrases that were said, like “When you know better, you do better.” No more sitting in your living room yelling comments at the TV. You could now share those comments and the people on TV responded back.
But – as you’ve often heard and will continue to hear when you come to RFN, Social Media was just the tool. It was the content of the shows, the way that Oprah took the things she’s learned and made them applicable to our own lives that drew us in and made us want to tweet and Skype and Facebook. I have been on my own personal development journey for the past year, and studying these basic but incredibly important lessons in Lifeclass has catapulted me forward in that journey toward living my own best life. Could it have happened without Social Media? Possibly, but the impact would have been far less.
You’ve missed the first semester of Lifeclass, but you can go to Oprah.com or her Facebook Lifeclass page and watch the recorded webcasts as a self study, and the hour-long Lifeclass shows are still running on OWN. If you’re not sure where to find OWN, you can go to Oprah.com and look up your local OWN channel number. Even if you aren’t interested in the Lifeclass lessons, it’s an opportunity to experience the use of Social Media to build a community for the purpose of changing people’s lives for the better. The next semester begins in the spring. I know I’ll be there.
Today's article on Carol Roth's blog is a must read! So many great bits of social media advice from people who are using it everyday. I think these two are my favorites:
Have you commited either of those blunders? Know someone who has? Check out the rest here: