How to Use LinkedIn at Conferences

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Frustrated Business WomanDo you go to conferences and feel awkward, not knowing what to do or what to say?

It’s happened to me. In fact in the last month I was a speaker at one conference and attended another one. Both conferences made it easy to connect with people, though all of them don’t make that extra effort. Even if you have the opportunity to meet new people, it can be awkward to walk up to a stranger.

You can use LinkedIn effectively before, during and after the conference, and you don’t have to have that awkward experience.

Before the conference:

  • Look up the speakers and learn more about them, and then decide which sessions you want to attend.
  • If there’s an app for the conference for your phone, look up the other attendees, and see who you know that’s also going. Arrange to meet up with them at the conference. That way, you’ll know someone and you won’t be in a sea of strangers.

During the conference:

  • After you get someone’s business card, go to LinkedIn, learn more about them and connect. Be sure to make notes on the back of their card about where you met them – which session or breakout session – and something of interest to jog your memory about them after the conference is over.
  • When you see them the next day, build the relationship: Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and say something about what you learned in their LinkedIn profile, such as something you have in common or people that you both know.

After the conference:

  • Reconnect on LinkedIn after the conference. Stay in touch and keep building the relationship.
  • Look up the LinkedIn profiles of the speakers. See if they write a blog or have published articles. Sign up for their newsletter so you can stay informed and keep the learning going after the conference.
  • Send a LinkedIn message to the speakers telling them the key takeaway point they mentioned.

Both of the conferences I attended recently have apps, so I can also keep in touch with people that way. They were both Working Mother Media conferences: Leadership Summit for Social Business, and the Multicultural Women’s National Conference. That means I know people who are interested in these subject areas – areas we have in common. Knowing that, I can easily connect them with other people in those areas, and send them relevant articles throughout the year.

Without LinkedIn, I wouldn’t know that we share contacts as well as interests. Both shared contacts and interests are excellent ways to build relationships and start a conversation – and that’s what LinkedIn, business and selling are all about.

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