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Networking 2.0 : Online networking for a better offline experience

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 10, 2013 11:00 AM

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“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

This statement is the reason why we go to networking events.

Because of social media a new style of networking has been evolving. I call it Networking 2.0, the combination of the best practices of traditional offline networking with those of the new online social networking.

Meeting new people can be daunting, and for some people it can be extremely intimidating. After reading this post you will have the basics to confidently walk into any Networking 2.0 event. People you have never physically met before will be expecting you and eager to connect with you.

The tips I suggest are so simple you will be able to implement most right after reading this post and leverage them tonight. (If you do, please comment below to let me know how it went!)

For context as to why I can make such a bold claim, my name is Joselin Mane, the co-founder of BostonTweetUp. For the last 4 years I have been going to 2 or 3 networking events per weeknight on average. I am also an introvert, so if I can do it, you can too.

Here are the top 6 tips I recommend you do before, during and after going to a networking event. Even though you can apply these same tactics for online networking events, I will be primarily focusing on offline / face to face networking events.

Every networking event can be broken down into three phases: Before, During and After.

1. Create a game plan and define success. This is extremely important because it can be the difference between you leaving the event excited with an abundance of opportunities or frustrated and possibly depressed knowing that you wasted your time. Since everyone’s personal goals are different, so is everyone’s game plan.
Examples include:
a. Find a Mentor – ideal for someone at the beginning of their career
b. Search for a New Career – Anyone looking for a transition
c. Seek Employment – Anyone in this economy
d. Grow a Business – Anyone looking to expand their business and looking for a new employee, co-founder, business partner, etc.

A game plan will determine when you arrive, how long to stay, how to dress and what to say to everyone you meet.

2. Update your online persona. What does Google say about you? Everyone is a brand, especially if you leverage social media. Everything you share across social media channels defines you. What do your last 5 shares say about you? Are your blog and social media profiles consistent? Make sure your blog and all your primary social media profiles are to up-to-date.

a. – This website allows you to search across 500 social media sites to see if your username is available. This is great tool for any brand. If your username is available, claim it on all the major networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. - Twitter and LinkedIn are the two best tools for networking) as well as the ones that are specific to your industry. (This tip allowed me to control the first 300 references to my name on Google and you can do the same for your brand!)

b. or – These almost identical sites allow you to create your own personally branded website within five minutes. Once you create an account then you can link all your social media sites to it as the central hub of your brand.

c. – This site allows you to easily update your social media profiles. So if you have already setup your social media accounts and you want to change the profile picture in all the accounts, this tool helps you do it all from its site.

3. Start connectingEventbrite, Meetup and even Facebook now list the attendees. Review online profiles to know people that have signed up for the event. Search for the primary people you want to meet. These will be the people you look for during the event. You know you already have something in common with them, which is that you are both going to the event.

a. Easy – Tweet that you are going to the networking event and include the Twitter account(s) of the organizers. The organizers will not only appreciate you helping promote their event but more importantly they will most likely remember you when you arrive at the event. Generally speaking the event organizers of any Networking 2.0 events are the most important people to meet first because they tend to know everyone who is coming. Because they know everyone they can most likely connect you with the people you need to meet.

b. Medium – Tweet the people you look forward to connecting with

i.e. “@ThePersonsName Hi I see you’re going to #EventHashtag hosted by @EventTwitterHandle or @EventOrganizerTwitterHandle. Question. (i.e. Have you gone before or something related to their bio?)”

If you develop a good rapport then you can coordinate a specific time to meet them. If it’s a Networking 2.0 event it is encouraged to connect with the other attendees before.

c. Advanced – Volunteer to help in any way possible. One of the best jobs to volunteer for is event photographer. As event photographer you get to meet everyone at the event. Make sure to go to the event early take some before pictures. If taking event pictures is not your thing figure out what you can do to help.

Goal: Establish and/or solidify your online brand.

1. Connect yourself – Get to the event early so that you can connect with the organizers of the event.

2. Connect others – Connect people to each other as quickly as possible. This is a more advanced technique but it is extremely effective and will make you instantly memorable.

3. Take photos – Even if it’s with your smart phone, create a memory of the experience. Use an app called Cardmunch if you have an iPhone or just take a photo of the business cards you receive, just in case you lose them in transit. Cardmunch uses the photo of the business card, finds their LinkedIn profile and sends it directly to your phone. This will help you easily stay connected with the person.

1. Follow up with context. The best time to follow up is within 24hrs of the event. If the conversation went well then setup a follow up meeting for coffee.

2. Create a blog post about the event, which will include the photos you took and the people you met. People love to look at photos of other people so by creating a blog post about the event you can almost be assured to get traffic to your website. Storify lets you easily cut and paste tweets and other social content into a story about the event that you can easily embed onto your blog.

There is a lot more, but these tips should get you started today. Please leave a comment below and let me know how it went. I also created an infographic for your convenience.
If you want more info about Networking 2.0 visit and/or to get a copy of my book Networking 2.0 : How social media has redefined the way we connect.

3 Phases To Networking Success – An infographic by the team at @BostonTweetUp

Joselin Mane is co-founder of BostonTweetUp and author of the forthcoming book Networking 2.0: How social media has redefined the way we connect.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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