By Lauren | July 14, 2015 | 0 Comment
Attending conferences and networking events can be intimidating. Getting put in a room with a bunch of strangers can be an introverts (or Millennial’s) worst nightmare. Who do you talk to? Do you just walk up and interrupt conversations or wait for someone to come to you? It’s overwhelming and for many people, they just straight up don’t like the anxiety of the whole thing.
As a natural introvert, I’m one of those people. If you meet me, you’d probably never guess it, but I’m used to spending the majority of my time behind a screen, so face-to-face interaction with strangers is completely out of my comfort zone. Over the last year I’ve attended a lot of networking events and conferences, as someone who is trying to get my travel blog to become bigger and better, this is absolutely necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary. That’s why I’ve mastered the art of pre-networking behind the screen before I attend these events. Here is how I do it…
1) Look at attendees through Facebook event or Twitter hashtag
Before an event I do some serious creeping. I check out the Facebook event or group for the conference and see who is coming. Do I recognize any names? Are there particular people that look like people I’d really want to meet? Then I reach out to them. I let them know I’m also attending the event, tell them a bit about myself and that I’d love to meet up when there.
If there is a Facebook group, I often will post things like—“who wants to meet up for lunch on the Saturday of the event?” This way it sparks conversation and you already make plans to connect the day of. Tracking the event hashtag on Twitter can also be a way to connect with attendees and interact a bit beforehand.
2) Find the people you want to connect with on LinkedIn & connect with a personalized email
Another option outside of Facebook and Twitter is to find people you’d like to connect with through LinkedIn. If you have an attendees list or checked out the list through other forms of social media, just bring the person’s name over to LinkedIn to learn more about their professional background and also connect in a more professional environment. This is particularly good if you don’t have a professional presence on Twitter or Facebook.
3) Exchange numbers or contact details with those you want to meet up with
Often times I’ll exchange numbers or emails with the people I’m interested in connecting with. This way it’ll be easy to track each other down the day of the event. As easy as it is to plan to meetup, it may be hard to spot each other amongst a large crowd, so doing this will make it much easier. And don’t think it’s weird to ask for someone’s contact information, once you have chatted a bit and expressed why you want to meet up, most people will not find it weird that you’re asking for this info to connect at the event.
By doing these easy pre-networking things via social media, you’ll already alleviate stress and social anxiety for the event. You’ll now have some new connections, people you know you can meet up with, and you’ll feel more confident walking through that door the day of. It’ll also help you make sure you connect with people that you really wanted to meet, or that are of interest of you. I’ve even done this at conferences and really ended up hitting it off with some of the attendees who ended up becoming my partner in crime for future events. There is safety in numbers, so having a person you know you’ll always be able to connect with or come back to can be helpful.