Small and large events are a great way to continue learning in your field and network with other professionals. Although larger events have more people attending, it may be hard (and even frustrating) to try and meet people. With so much going on, and so many people, how do you find the ones you were looking forward to meeting?
I have a post on Zacuto on networking at NAB. NAB is the largest event in the video production field and I gave a general overview on what one can do to make the most out of it. One of the topics that got the biggest response was using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with others beforehand. Let’s dive a little deeper into that.
If you aren’t on Twitter by now, you should start. No really…stop reading and sign up. This post will be here when you get back. For those that are on Twitter, bring it up on another window and read on to learn how Twitter can be used to enhance your experience at an industry event.
I love using a list for an event. It is such an easy way to keep up with trends and see who is attending the event. There are two lists you can make (I use both) for an event. The first type of list includes anyone you know that is attending the event. Anytime they tweet, it will show up in a column. The second list, which I actually like more, involves a hashtag. For example, I made a list for #NAB and #icon13. Both events advertised these hashtags for the purpose of networking. When anyone (whether I follow them or not) posts a tweet that has #nab, it will show up in that list. I have been using the application “TweetDeck” for Mac which makes it easy to implement.
The main advantage of using Twitter is to set up meetings and form a relationship before attending. I don’t know of anyone that goes to events saying “I don’t want to meet anyone.” Take advantage of this! Follow them on Twitter, see what they are about and compliment them on the work you enjoyed.
I even go a step further and try to organize a small get together with people I know. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For example, propose drinks at the hotel bar one of the evenings. You can then easily invite people you haven’t met yet.
It is as easy as: “@PersonYouWantToMeet And BTW, a few of us are grabbing drinks at the hotel bar Tuesday at 8pm if you want to join #NAB.” Not only did you include a specific person, you let people who are following the hashtag know of this casual meet up. If this is a small private affair, go for the direct message and lose the hashtag.
Even if you aren’t thinking of putting a meet-up together, if you network before the event, there is a good chance you will be invited to another meet-up. Remember, people are attending the event in hopes to learn and network. Use it to your advantage!
It is easy to be social when you know a few people and have attended an event in the previous year(s). On the other hand, if you are attending an event for the first time, it will be harder to try and gather people. So, my suggestion is to follow people that are talking about the event. From there, reach out with: “anything I should expect for my first time at #NAB ?” See who responds back and try to get a small conversation going. Build upon that and continue to tweet each day with the event’s hashtag. This is also a great way to get included in meet-ups.
While I was writing this, I was tweeting the entire time. That is how easy Twitter can be. I have lists going with events that I attend, and am able to see what people talk about. Additionally, I have the chance to comment and have a conversation with them. Don’t try to do it all in one day, but start now and build upon your event’s network each day. Don’t forget to follow up after the event!