Last year I wrote a post about my 5 KNOWS for Blogging Conferences. In it I shared tips for what to bring, what to wear and how to approach attending a conference that fits your blog niche. What I didn’t talk about how was meeting people at a conference. See buying your ticket + showing up is only have the process. Once you get there it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to meet some amazing people. Some of the best connections and most meaningful relationships you can make are at blogging conferences. You understand each other, you write about common topics and you are you willing share pieces of yourself online with your readers.
I know that attending a blogging conference can be nerve wrecking. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’m still there with you every time I attend a new conference. This year I’m attending 2 conferences I’ve never attended before (Alt Summit SLC + Blissdom) and I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous, but I’m also excited. I’m excited to be inspired, stretched and to put myself out there. So nervousness aside, I thought I’d share with you my 5 KNOWS for Meeting People at a Blogging Conference.
1. KNOW how to Say Hello
Friends, saying Hi can be the hardest part when you’re in a new place, surrounded by new people, but how are you going to create new friendships if you don’t say Hello?! Take every opportunity whether it’s in the checking into the hotel, in the elevator, meeting your roomies or even standing in line waiting to use the restroom to get to know the person next to you. Say Hi, tell them your name, reach out shake their hand and ask for their name. Whew! Now the hardest part is over. You never know, that person standing behind you in the line at Starbucks could be someone you’d love to collaborate with, but you’d never know if you didn’t say what?! Hello!
Let me give you an example. A couple years ago I attended my very first conference, BlogSugar, put on locally by some amazing ladies I’ve met in the blogesphere. As I walked into this big room, filled with over a hundred empty chairs, I immediately felt small and intimidated. Then to top it off I spotted across the room someone whose blog I had read for a while and I wanted to meet her so bad. Instead of shying away I walked right up to her, said hello and started a conversation. That conversation let to many more conversations and a friendship bloomed and now I’m one of a team of contributors on her blog. More important than anything, if I hadn’t said hello I would’ve missed out on creating a great friendship.
2. KNOW how to Compliment
So now you’ve said hello and you have no idea where you head to next. Don’t run! Stay put. There must’ve been something that drew you to say Hello to that person. What was it? Their smile, great hair, fabulous necklace? Pay her a compliment. Friends, this doesn’t need to be awkward, just honest. After all, doesn’t everyone like to be affirmed that they are doing something right? I know I do. If I buy a new necklace and pair it with an equally adorable outfit and someone compliments me on it, I’m stoked. Compliments are a great way to transition from your Hello, into a more meaningful conversation. They also help you to make a great first impression when you’re on a short elevator ride, or the next person to enter that bathroom stall. Make sure if you don’t have time to chat longer, you try and seek out that person again at the conference to get to know them better. I promise, they will remember you, why, because you complimented them.
3. KNOW how to Ask Questions
Once you’ve said Hello, and complimented your new friend on that adorable necklace she’s wearing, introduce yourself and be sure to ask their name! When you ask them their name, be sure to you use it in the next sentence when you say, “it’s nice to meet you.” It’s proven that when you repeat back a persons name 2-3 times in a conversation you are more likely to remember it when you see that person again. Now that the introductions are out of the way, have some questions in your arsenal that you can ask. Think about things you appreciate being asked by others.
- Have you been to Alt Summit before?
- Where are you from?
- Where do you blog at?
- How long have you been blogging?
- Did you come to the conference with any friends?
- Where did you find that great necklace you’re wearing?
When I was at SNAP Conference last year, I had the privilege of getting to know the beautiful ladies pictured below. We got into a great conversation about how the best form of marketing your handmade shop is by proudly wearing your products when you go places. As we chatted, I was able to ask questions about overcoming intimidation + ways to showcase your products on your blog in a tangible way for your readers. These ladies all do such an incredible job balancing sharing the beautiful accessories they make and making genuine connections with their readers and consumers. Now, a year later, we are still friends and Maggie + I have had many marketing and strategy conversations that get the creative juices flowing. Yay!
4. KNOW when it’s the Right Time to Exchange Cards
So now you’ve said hello, introduced yourself, maybe you’ve thrown out a compliment and you’ve had time to ask questions to get to know the person you’re talking to and “the moment” arrives where it’s time to head to another session or you have a meeting planned you need to be at. Don’t be afraid to ask for that persons business card!! In fact, even if you only have a quick moment to chat with that person, if there’s something that leaves an impression, be sure to offer up your card + ask for theirs so you can reconnect at a later time at the conference. Over 80% of people attend conferences with networking in mind so do not shy away from making that business card exchange.
I think it’s also important to note that the right time to exchange cards may not always come in the same point in each conversation so don’t miss the moment because you’re busy questioning yourself + be sure to have more than one handy just in case. You may begin a conversation with one person, but more may join in + you’ll want to have enough cards to exchange with everyone you were talking to.
Once you have exchanged cards, make sure you find a safe place to put them so they don’t get lost. I use a one-hole punch + d-ring system that has worked well for me at every conference I’ve attended.
5. KNOW how to Follow Up
There are two kinds of follow up that I’m going to talk about. The first is following up with the person you met while you’re still at the conference. If you have a great conversation with someone and you hit it off, ask them what they are doing for lunch or for dinner. Then stick your neck out there and ask if they would like to meet up again later. If each of you grabs a couple friends, meet up for lunch or dinner then suddenly you went from meeting one person to meeting 3-4 or more additional people.
The second way to follow up with people you met happens when you get home from the conference. You’re going to meet a lot of new people, some of them you’ll be able to have great conversations with, but others you’ll run short of time and want to continue those conversations when you get home. After you take a few days to re-acclimate with life, sit down and go through all the business cards you go and start visiting blogs, following people via social media and shoot them an email to tell them how great it was to meet them and, again, ask questions to create new conversations.
I won’t lie to you follow up takes the most amount of time, but it is the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself + your brand when you return home. Do you need to follow up with every single person you met? No, but you may want to and that’s ok too. Just don’t come home from a conference and choose not to follow up with anyone you met. You never know what friendship you could be missing out on.
Have you attended a blogging conference? What are some ways you got out of your comfort zone to meet new people?