The conference setting is the perfect time to leverage newfound connections and receive worthwhile tips from speakers and attendees. While a simple handshake was once enough to connect you with potential clients or business contacts, in the social world, the real work starts after you’ve swapped URLs, Twitter handles or Facebook information, among other social information.
When done properly, social media can be a very effective tool in connecting you with a geographically-dispersed community of emerging and established leaders.
Before you attend your next conference, here are seven tips to maximize your conference experience via social media:
Start sooner rather than later
If you have access to the official list of attendees, or can identify them through their social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+, start connecting before you even attend a session. You’ll begin your relationship building early.
Create a Twitter List of Conference Speakers and Attendees
You can identify other conference participants and group them together in a Twitter list, which will allow you to view their activity during the conference and beyond. It’s an organized way to track the individuals you want to connect with.
Most conferences, small or large, are integrating hashtags into their social media strategy. If you happen to miss a panel, you will probably find instantaneous feedback on it via the conference hashtag such as #BEEC2012 or #NBMBAA12.
Follow Sponsoring Brands
There are corporate sponsors and brands that are aligned with all major conferences. Always look for ways to connect with them. It could enable future opportunities and is great for relationship building.
Utilize Mobile Apps
Hootsuite has a great mobile app that allows users to track hashtags, keywords, and tweets right from your mobile device. The ability to follow the stream of conference activity from anywhere is critical.
Tag Others in Your Post
Tagging others in your pictures, status updates, and tweets is a very powerful way to connect with people. Make sure the context of your post and other content doesn’t misrepresent the person or brand you are including.
Show (Don’t Just Tell) Your Network: Creating visuals with other attendees and brands makes it easier for them to share content with their community. Photos can be very effective tools in communicating how connected you are.