Posted by Kelly Phillips on Apr 11, 2012 | 0 comments
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!
Social media has begun the transition from a fad to anindelible part of our business culture. If you’re still in denial about thepower of LinkedIn, try these numbers on for size. According to a research studyconducted by the Job Board Doctor
, 78% of HR andRecruiting Professionals surveyed reported using social media to find qualifiedjob candidates in 2011. Of those who used social media for recruitment, 92%used LinkedIn, with Facebook and Twitter tied for second place with about 65%each. The most important challenge these same recruiters reported facing? Alack of qualified applicants.
How could that be, with so many people using LinkedIn andsocial media? The problem is not the amount of people using social media, it’sthe amount of people who are using social media well. If you’re using socialmedia for business or professional purposes, you need to have a clearunderstanding of why you’re using it. Is your only purpose for using LinkedIn keepingtrack of old co-workers? Or are you trying to build an actual professional network?Are you job hunting or do you expect to be job hunting soon? Are you asalesperson looking for prospects? Or a small business owner looking forsuppliers? Once you clarify your purpose for being on the site, you can startto build a profile that will help you achieve that purpose.
No matter your reason for using LinkedIn, having a completeprofile that allows other users to find you is an important part of yourstrategy. Why? Because LinkedIn isn’t just the sites name. It’s also how thesite works. When you do a search on LinkedIn, you are not able to see fullresults from the entire LinkedIn user database. You are only allowed to seepeople who are connected to you through the people you’ve linked to (yournetwork), and a maximum of 100 people (out of network).
The people you link directly to are called your 1stlevel connections. These are people that you know personally, or have haddirect contact with at some point. Each person they are connected to becomes a2nd level connection to you. The people your 2nd levelconnections are linked to, become your 3rd level connections. 1st, 2nd and 3rdlevel connections are free to contact through the site. Anyone further awaythan that requires an upgraded paid account, paying for InMail, an introductionvia a mutual connection, or knowing the person’s email address.
So the more people you link directly to, the more people youcan reach via LinkedIn. If the people that you know from high school, college,and past jobs can’t find you on LinkedIn because your profile isn’t complete,you are limiting the amount of recruiters, prospects, and business contacts whocan find you as well. So take some time to complete that LinkedIn profile. Onceyou’re open to linking, you never know what opportunities might come your way.
If you need help with your LinkedIn Profile, RFN is herewith a workshop for you. Create & Maximize Your LinkedIn® Profile
is asmall, interactive online workshop led by Red Feather Kelly Phillips. Kellywill walk you step-by-step through creating or updating your profile, and willdo a personal review of your own LinkedIn profile after you’ve had a chance toapply what you’ve learned. Only $25! BONUS EBOOK!
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Posted by Michele Lawson on Mar 3, 2012 | 0 comments
I want to talk about shoes for a minute. I know RFN is not a fashion blog, it’s a blog on networking, making connections, professionalism, social media and more. I’m sorry – for me it’s all about the shoes. I LOVE SHOES. I recently went on a four night trip and brought eight pairs of shoes. This is perfectly normal I might add. I am certainly not going to wear the same outfit in the evening that I did during the day so why would anyone assume that I would wear the same shoes?
So, what does my obsession with shoes have to do with anything RFN stands for? I will tell you.It’s all about being You. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about professionalism, networking, social gatherings or job interviews – be yourself. I talked a lot about being inside your comfort zone in my past blog posts. This can mean many things. I recently had dinner with a great group of people including Jim Knight of Hard Rock International. We talked about so many great topics that night, however one thing that Jim said really struck me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing so please forgive me Jim if I misquote you)…. “When employees can spend less time and energy worrying about covering their tattoos, or removing their piercings, or trying to simply fit in – then they can spend more time providing great customer service by just being themselves.” And it’s so true. In order to be yourself on the inside you need to feel like yourself on the outside.
I often think about those “makeover” shows. Sure the person looks amazing when they are done with the transformation. However are they really comfortable? And by comfortable I don’t mean sweat pants and t-shirts. I mean whatever defines your style. Have you ever noticed men at a wedding, business meeting or funeral and they are wearing a suit and tie? You can tell immediately which men are business men and that is their normal attire and which men dug the suit and tie out of the back of the closet for the occasion. The men who are used to being in a suit and tie would feel uncomfortable without one. That’s how I feel about high heels. I love shoes and I am most comfortable and confident in heels. Maybe this is because I’m only 5’2” – I don’t know. My point is, always give yourself the advantage by putting yourself inside your comfort zone as often as you can — and this includes your attire. If you are going to a meeting or event that you are nervous about from the start then whatever you do, DO NOT wear something that you don’t feel your best in. That is not the time to wear a shirt for the first time or try a new style or break in a new pair of shoes. If you must wear something new I highly suggest wearing it around your hotel room for a bit. Get a feel for the way it moves. Is there anything annoying you…a label…a button that is bulging… a hemline that is too short? I don’t know how many times I have worn something that probably looked OK to everyone else, but to me I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb.
When you are so focused on how you look or how others may think you look, you rob yourself of being able to relax, converse and show your true colors.For me, its all about the shoes. As I stated before, some men feel comfortable and confident in ties – I feel the same way about high heels. So to give myself that edge of staying inside my comfort zone, I wear heels as often as I can. If I’m going to a function that is formal then I certainly rock the stilettos. A business meeting would call for a nice pair of sensible heels that are either closed toe or peep toe. For a casual event, even if I wear jeans, I will wear heels. I have some great pairs of casual style heels for jeans and I also have some very casual boots with heels.
Let’s say heels are not your thing. Wear what is! If you always wear flats – You can find great dressy flats for formal events, business casual flats for dress slack or skirts to a business meeting and I have seen a ton of cute flats that would go great with casual jeans. The thing is to keep it fun, professional and comfortable.
By having such a vast collection of shoes I can always manage, no matter what the event, to find something that makes me feel like I’m presenting my very best self both inside and out.
If you found this blog helpful, I encourage you to sign up for our email list, send us a note, or comment on our Facebook page. Share with your tweeps on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google + by simply clicking the links at the top of this post. ALSO — If you have any comments or suggestions for future posts that you would be interested in hearing about please leave your comments below.
Posted by Michele Lawson on Feb 20, 2012 | 3 comments
There is a pretty clear distinction in most people’s minds between introversion and extroversion. If someone asked you “are you an introvert or an extrovert” you would probably be able to reply without much hesitation. However, if someone asked you if you are “shy” or an “introvert” would you be able to reply as quickly and with certainty? Shy and introvert are two terms that people use interchangeably however they are quite different.
There has been extensive research on both introversion and shyness. I have had a great deal curiosity about this and tend to read a lot about the topic. I thought I would share some of my findings with you.
There are two main differences that I find very interesting:
1 – Those who are introverts actually enjoy spending time alone and removed from social activities. While they are alone they can recharge their batteries and get energy. Introverts are very rarely ever lonely. When they are in social situations, introverts are often very social and outgoing. People who suffer from shyness most often do NOT like to be alone. They long to be able to overcome the anxiety that shyness causes which keeps them from socially interacting with others. Introverts tend to have little interest in social activities while those who are shy are actually fearful of the experience.
2 –Being introverted actually has to do with the physical part of the brain (front thalamus) and how that part of our brain dictates how we interact in certain situations. Shyness is generally a psychological occurrence that can often be helped through both practice and counseling. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes – and although no one is striving for perfection it is proven that inserting yourself slowly into more social situations, the more comfortable you will start to become. Counseling can help with low self-esteem and the fear of how others perceive you which is often an underlying reason for shyness.
C. H. Cooley introduced the concept of “The looking-glass self” in 1902. Basically, the Looking-glass self is the “self” that you create through how you imagine you are seen by another individual. I think this statement by Robert Bierstedt says it all … “The way we imagine ourselves to appear to another person is an essential element in our conception of ourselves. In other words, I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”
While this blog post was not meant to diagnosis or label anyone it was meant to maybe help clear up some confusion between the “shy” and “introvert”. Later on this week I will be posting two blogs. Both will deal with networking or making connections. One will be geared towards introverts and the other towards those suffering from shyness.
If you found this blog helpful, please share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google + by simply clicking the links at the top of this post. ALSO — If you have any comments or suggestions for future posts that you would be interested in hearing about please leave your comments below, email us, or comment on our Facebook page.
Thanks – Thanks – Thanks!
However, my view on this topic is changing – largely becauseour online world is changing. The evolution of social media is blurring thelines between our online lives and our real lives. The existence of Red FeatherNetworking is a product of that. We exist because we connect over social mediaAND in person. I used to think of my online presence as a “public” presence andmy offline presence as my “personal” life. Things have changed. I want to use the onlinetools social media is providing us to enhance that “personal” life. So I needto start paying attention to privacy policies and how my information is beingused by companies and protected from being shared.
I was a bit taken aback in reading about exactly how much tracking Google does of individuals. Of course I knew it was going on. My Google search results are clearly targeted to my geographic location and my interests. But I simply hadn’t stopped to think about what they are collecting, how it’s being used, and how it might be shared. I plan on delving into this more and will probably do a bit of customizing to the amount of types and information I share. While I appreciate those targeted search results, I also think there is a limit. I’m still figuring out where that limit is for me and how much control I have over it, but this is a start.
Michele Lawson – self-styled Introvert and founding member of Red Feather Networking has a story to tell – one that all Introverts can learn from. We sometimes think of Social Media and Online Communities as a way for people to hide behind their computers and avoid human interaction. Some may go so far as to build a “Cyberlife” that is more engaging than their “real” life. However, Michele and her fellow Red Feathers have found a higher purpose – the use of Social Media to make real-life connections with people you barely know – and to make it matter in the offline world. Although I was there when RFN was founded, I wanted to sit down with Michele and hear the story as she experienced it.
Kelly: So, you call yourself an Introvert… why?
Michele: People who are closest to me do not describe me as shy or quiet. In fact I’m considered quite the opposite among my family, friends and co-workers. However, that’s INSIDE my comfort zone. Once I get outside of my comfort zone it is a totally different story. I’m not only talking about situations with massive amounts of people. I’m talking about anything from a girls night out with women I have never met, to small business meetings, to international conferences. In those scenarios I tend to transform from an outgoing socialite to a wall flower.
Kelly: And how are things different for you now?
Michele: Now that I have seen the positive outcome that is achieved by putting myself out there I am more willing to do so. Do I still get butterflies? Certainly. However, I feel now that I am armed with the tools and tips that I need to make any social setting a beneficial one.
Kelly: So tell me about this defining experience. How did it come about?
Michele: I had just signed up for the American Society of Training and Development International Conference and Exposition. Honestly, I was a very nervous about going to this huge conference by myself. Eight thousand people is a lot of people. To better get a feel for what I was about to get myself into I did what most introverts would do – I jumped on computer -Linked In to be exact. I joined some groups associated with the event with the intention of lurking in the shadows and finding out more about what goes on at the conference. One person reached out with a funny post, and amazingly enough, I decided to post back.
Kelly: So it was that easy? Posting back?
Michele: Hey, I’m an Introvert! Posting back wasn’t easy! But I took that leap. After the first leap, I took the second and a third. The next thing I know, we had a small group not only replying to each other’s posts but we were exchanging email addresses and phone numbers. I started texting and talking to members who were also attending and had the same interests and concerns that I had. Before I knew it I was making plans to meet up with people from all over the world. YES I said “THE WORLD”! It was amazing.
Kelly: And so when you all arrived at the conference, you met up?
Michele: Yes, however it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can imagine trying to find a handful of people in a sea of thousands. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We had to have some way to identify ourselves without trying to walk around reading everyone’s name badge. That’s where the red feathers come in – the kind you would buy at the craft store. A member of our group suggested that each of us put red feather on our conference name badges to help identify our online group visually. That way, if you saw someone with a red feather you knew they were part of our online group even if you hadn’t actually met them yet. It made it much easier to just walk up and start talking with them. The feather was a great ice breaker not only to people within our online group but also to others who were very curious about the significance. By the end of the conference there were at least 50 of us within the Red Feather group.
Kelly: And the group is still in touch today?
Michele: YES! Not only do we keep up with each other on social media sites, we also keep in contact face to face. Many of us travel extensively. It’s nice to know someone in a town you may be in – someone to have dinner with or be able to contact to ask about the local area. Even better, since most of us are in the training field in some capacity, we’re able to use social media to help each other both professionally and personally. We recommend software tools, give advice, share accomplishments and collaborate. Basically we’re just what our name implies. We’re a network. However, our network has a stronger connection than many regular online groups. We were able to take that online connection and bring it into our “real” lives offline which has made all the difference. Red Feathers really know each other, we care about each other, and we are friends as well as professional colleagues. I know, it’s hard to believe that this bond was formed by only spending four days together, almost a year ago.
Kelly: So where does it go from here? Will you have another in-person group gathering?
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?
(Chuckles) I know it sounds cliché however if I can do it anyone can do it. Let’s remember, I’m a self proclaimed introvert so if you had told me that I would attend a conference with 8000+ attendees, that I would talk to people, actually bond, have a published article on the experience and now get to tell hundreds of people about the experience via my teleseminar, I would have said you were crazy.
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.
Kelly Phillips is a self-proclaimed Learning and Development Passionista and shares inspirations and insights on the Effective Training & Design blog. Follow her on Twitter at @KellyPhillipsNC