TSE Networking Tips – Social Media
Meet People at The Special Event
There are a lot of components to industry conferences like The Special Event. The big ones for most attendees are:
Before the event begins, I want to talk about the third in this list, networking. There are volumes of books on networking that include broad ways to increase your chances of making the kind of connections that will help you and/or your business. I’ve attended quite a few event industry conferences over the years and I’ve developed a few tricks that have helped me meet some of the most important people in my career. Some have gone on to be mentors, friends, and contacts I call upon when I have decisions to be made. Whatever you do, you are made much more powerful if you’re base of knowledge is larger than your own experiences.
The first trick to networking at a conference like TSE I’m going to discuss is social media. Of coarse I would say this, right? Different outlets have different purposes while at a conference, however. Let’s break down how to use each outlet effectively.
When it comes to networking, I find Facebook to be the least useful at a conference. Since you’re friends list is all who see your posts, it’s a tough way to meet new people. The best way to use Facebook while at a conference is to post a few choice photos a day (2 or 3 at the most) to let those who didn’t go to TSE know that you are mingling with the best in the industry. If you belong to any industry group pages, you would make a good name for yourself if you share your findings there. Remember to post to your business pages no more than once a day to let your partners and clients know you believe in continual education in your field and that you are one of the leaders in your market because of attendance in events such as this.
When it comes to conference networking, Twitter is, by far, the most important social media platform. The most important thing to know for TSE this year is that the official hashtag is #TSE2013. Start using it before you get there so that you can establish yourself early. Do not abuse it, though. Know your audience. If you hear something at a session that you feel your follower base would appreciate but not the attendees, leave the hashtag off. If you are commenting on something you think attendees would benefit from, use the hashtag. Another way to check out everything happening at TSE is to bookmark this page. Every #TSE2013 post and every official TSE Twitter post can be found there.
If you monitor that hashtag you will be more in the know than other attendees and you will know what’s hot and what’s not. If used correctly, this #TSE2013 hashtag can position you as a star that people want to meet. Setting up tweet-ups (real life gatherings of Twitter users talking about a specific topic) at the conference is a way to network about a specific topic that YOU want to talk about. I’ve done this many times to great success.
Twitter Lists are also a pretty powerful tool to utilize at TSE. Adding names of people who are using the #TSE2013 hashtag or the names of speakers will allow you to easily follow every post coming from the most influential at the show and beyond. I have lists like “Event Industry Stars”, “Social Media Gurus”, “Event Industry Sales Professionals” etc. This is a great way to organize these potential assets/inspirations into a rolodex that has value to you.
Participate in the discussions, add value to the conference attendees, and ALWAYS represent yourself in a way that is unique and personal in your tweets. Don’t forget to inject some humor to disarm readers. This will make you more approachable and increase the chances of people seeking you out to network with. Think of Twitter as a forum for networking. Will you be a bashful lurker, a selective commenter, or a rock star? Just be genuine and somewhat outgoing and this platform will do wonders to enhance your conference experience.
Like Twitter, Instagram usage benefits from the inclusion of the hashtag #TSE2013. Keep in mind that you can search for that hashtag on both Instagram and Twitter (as long as the person is sharing on Twitter). Also, over sharing can be a negative to your non-TSE attending followers. If you see something interesting, nothing is more memorable than a picture.
I don’t believe images of session speakers are that valuable UNLESS you tag the speaker’s Instagram or Twitter handle. One of my goals at conferences is to connect with speakers from sessions I enjoy through social media. These are generally experts in their fields and some of the most valuable contacts you can make. Ask for their Twitter handles after the conference or search for them on Google.
Sometimes pictures of things to do in the host city are attractive to conference attendees looking for ideas of things to do. Inspirational pictures from the TSE events (plug for the Thursday night SEARCH event!) will get the attention of your event industry peers especially if you include creative commentary that would give ideas to other attendees.
Although not the best method of meeting up with attendees, it’s a great way to really establish yourself as a major player. If you can manage to put together a daily long-form blog post of your experiences while in Chicago, you’ll be farther ahead than all but the most elite. If you do manage to put together a more thorough narrative on your blog, make sure to post a link to the blog through Twitter a few times a day while there. It will be pretty impressive!
Besides monitoring your various social media channels, Hootsuite use for tweet scheduling can be pretty powerful at a conference for networking. If you would like to do a tweet-up about a specific topic at a specific venue, schedule out tweets informing people where to meet a few times a day. This will increase the likelihood of attendance. If you already know your schedule ahead of time, why not schedule tweets in advance letting people know where you will be? This makes it much easier for people following you to find out where you’ll be.
Social Media should be social! Know the audience of the platforms you choose to use and make sure to include content that engages them. When using the #TSE2013 hashtag, include information that you would want to read if you were the reading it. Think of this hashtag as the commentary for the entire conference that happens in real time. Paying attention to these tweets will put your thumb right on the pulse of The Special Event 2013.
* Make sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram – @NickTheHouse