This week has been a crazy full of laundry, dishes, cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, spending quality time with my family, and getting back into the grind after being away for several days attending Alt Summit Winter 2015. This was my second time going, I went to Alt Summit Summer in 2014 after getting really lucky and won a ticket. I feel like I finally get it when it comes to Alt Summit, I’ll elaborate more.
Last year when I attended it opened so many doors for me. I was able to meet a TON of people, experience what it’s like to go to Alt Summit (it’s not like any other conference I’ve been to), it left an impression on me to start hustling, helped me grow as a person and as a blog and business.
Probably the biggest climax of the conference for me was being a panelist for the How to Grow a Loyal Facebook Community class. Here’s the story. I pitched a simple class idea to the creator of Alt Summit when the email came out that they were looking for speakers. I knew deep down inside the chances of me getting picked was slim to none because I’m not well known, don’t have a big blog, and not hugely successful. I knew that I had some great experiences from managing the social media for My Recipe Magic and Fry Sauce & Grits page and had a clear message I wanted to share to help all of those who want to throw in the towel when it comes to dealing with Facebook and all of the algorithim changes that effect a business pages reach. So I got my courage up, pitched my class topic, and actually forgot about it. Two months later I got the email from the creator Gabrielle from Design Mom that she wanted me to speak on how to grow a loyal community on Facebook.
For someone like me this a once in a lifetime chance and an opportunity that doesn’t come often. I was so touched, I cried, got real scared, and cried some more. The lesson I learned from this was that fear is the thing in life that will always hold us back. I realize I will be able to achieve so much more in life when I don’t fear the unknown, unfamiliar, and the uncomfortable. This taught me a valuable lesson to not fear rejection and to press forward, never give up, and believe in myself. I can’t imagine what I would have been doing all last week if I didn’t attend Alt Summit, probably eating sugary cereal while looking at my Instagram feed feeling bad for myself and wishing I was there.
I was able to be paired up with two hugely successful ladies, Jillee from One Good Thing by Jillee and Jamielyn from I Heart Naptime to be on the panel. I felt like the class went really well and we had some great information to share. So that’s why I wanted to share with you my notes of my presentation so if you weren’t able to attend our class or Altitude Summit and you want to learn how to grow a loyal Facebook community, you can!
Click here to download.
I’m happy to say the second time attending Alt Summit I left feeling more confident, reassured, inspired, and know what I need to do in 2015. I had identified my goals, strategy for achieving those goals, and because of this felt more focused and comfortable.
I’m no business coach or mentor but I’ve learned so much from attending several conferences and from this recent conference that I want to share with you some tips that I’ve found to be extremely helpful to me and that have helped me to feel successful while attending Alt Summit. So I’m going to share with you my tips on how to be freaking awesome at networking, because I feel like I’m really good at this due to a lot of practice.
1. Have some goals in mind
Before I headed to Alt Summit I wrote down who I wanted to meet, classes I wanted to attend, what sponsors I wanted to work with, and what I wanted to get out of this conference. The funny thing is that I find that sometimes those goals change as you the conference goes. I really listened to how I was feeling and what I was in the mood fore. For an example, I had a pretty strict schedule for the conference, I realized the longer I was there all I wanted to do was meet, talk, and network. So that’s what I did. I only attended two classes the entire time. I find that when I attend a lot of classes I leave feeling overwhelmed, more stressed because I’m reminded of what I’m not doing.
So realize depending on your experience, goals, and and how you’re feeling you might want to go to all of the classes and learn. Maybe do half networking and half classes, or do no classes and just network. Your goals will change over time.
I really love this quote from the wise lady, Tiffany Han because I feel like this is exactly how I felt at the conference last week:
“In life, we look to other people to tell us what to do. We take courses, seek out gurus, and watch to see if we can figure out everyone else’s secret weapon. What if there is no secret weapon? What if the actual secret to [success]is nothing more than hard work and patience, combined with relationships, all mixed in with that little bit of luck (that will come from perseverance) that you show up at the right place at the right time. What if you already have all of the information you need to move forward? Hint: you do, Right now.”
This is so true. Sometimes all the knowledge we need is the knowledge we already need. So my words of advice is have some set goals, but once you get to the conference and you feel differently about them, or you want to focus on something else, that’s ok. Go by your gut. Don’t just go to a conference winging it, you’ll find you won’t get as much out of it.
2. Reach out to sponsors ahead of time
I made it a goal of mine to reach out to all to the sponsors I wanted to meet and potentially work with at the conference. I did this by mentioning them on social media about how excited I was to meet them, asked them for the names of who would be representing them at the conference, liking their posts and statuses, leaving comments on the conference Facebook page, and introducing myself over email.
If you have had corresponded with some sponsors or worked with them in the past make sure to reach out to them and ask if they’re attending. By doing this I was able to set up several one on one appointments to meet with sponsors, which made my relationship with these people and companies a lot deeper. I was able to ask questions and do it in a more quiet and secluded way, which is so nice compared to trying to talk to them when there’s hundreds of people around.
Another tip I found to be helpful was I wrote down the list of the sponsors and the names of the contact person for each, so right before I walked into one of the sponsored room or booth I would look at my handy dandy list to see who I needed to talk to and hunted that person down.
3. Have some ideas of collaborations and projects in mind
This goes hand in hand with #2. When you approach companies or have appointments set up with brands; have an idea of what kind of work they do with bloggers. Do some research on how they typically work with bloggers. Not saying that’s how you want to work with them, but have an idea. A lot of times when I approach a brand I find they have something their focusing on and want to collaborate with bloggers. But it’s always smart to have a couple of ideas in the back of your mind that you can use to give an example of how you would like to work with them to help you find that connection with them and so they know you did your homework.
4. Step way out of your comfort zone
I did a little experiment while at the conference. I wanted to see how many times I had to go and approach people and introduce myself vs people coming up to me and introducing themselves. I could count probably 4-5 people who actually randomly came up to me and said hello and introduced themselves to me. That means that 97% of the time I was having to go out of my way to say hello. At first you might think, wow people are kind of snooty and rude. I find the reason behind this is because it’s human nature to stick with what’s comfortable, meaning to stick in groups or the desire to find a friend to cling to.
Yeah, it’s nice to have a friend or two where you can stick together, but I find that this limits the amount of networking you can get done. I had several friends at the conference where I could sit next to or eat lunch with but really forced myself not to get too comfortable by just hanging out with my friends the entire time. I tried to find people I’d never met before and go sit by them, introduce myself, and hang out during the parties. I found myself creating close relationships with these people that were complete strangers to me 20 minutes prior.
Now I’m not saying you can’t hang out with your friends, but really force yourself to try to talk to everyone. So many times during this conference and other conference I’ve attended I’ve introduced myself to someone I didn’t know and found out their a very influential blogger, business owner, or rep for a company. Never judge a person by their appearance, you might find the humble looking guys or galas are the ones that have a force to be reckon with. Seriously meeting the right person at the right time can change your life both personally and professionally, keep that in mind.
5. Do more listening
Really listen when your talking to others. I find that I get so excited to tell the other person about myself and what I’m passionate about. Sometimes this can inhibits my listening skills. So remember to listen more than talk. You don’t want to come across as being too into yourself. Your goal when meeting people and companies is to get to know that person and try to find a connection and develop a friendship. You really need to put your agenda down on the ground. Ask thoughtful and engaging questions to that person. Hopefully the other person you’re talking to was taught well and they’ll ask you about yourself. If they don’t, don’t take it personally. Some people aren’t as engaging, or friendly, or open with people. Just move on to the next person.
6. Be confident
Know that you have something great to offer and to give. Each of us are an expert in something, so make sure to own that. It can be hard not to compare yourself to other people’s successes and achievements. Believe me I struggle with this sometimes. Everyone’s journey is different and timing is everything. Some people might find success early on and others like myself feel like it’s as slow as molasses. But the thing to keep in mind is that we’r all on a journey, and this journey is the key to our success. We need to experience disappointment, failure, setbacks to learn and to work harder and smarter. In a nutshell your confidence will exude from your eyeballs, ears, and mouth. It’s radiating and it’s contagious. So if you don’t have a whole lot of confidence, just pretend. I do this a lot, haha.
7. “Because nice matters”
I LOVE this quote because it’s so true. Not everyone you meet at a conference is going to be your ticket to uber success. I find that most of the people I meet I’ll probably won’t work with and won’t talk to on a regular basis. But I hope each person I meet, I leave the impression with them that I was nice and sincere. So is my name ever come up in a conversation, even if people think I’m a lousy speaker or blogger, hopefully they can say that I was nice. Being polite and nice will go so much farther than being a bitch. Believe me I’ve tried playing the bitch card a few times in my life and yeah it might feel liberating for a moment, but it never goes as far as being nice, and sometimes leaves you feeling more insecure about yourself.
8. Follow up
I like to wait several days before I follow up with people. The reason being is because a lot of people are super eager to follow up and people’s inboxes are going to be full after a week of being gone to a conference. Your email will probably be one of many from other attendees contacting sponsors and new friends. Plus being away from a long period of time from family, work, and personal life can make the week after a conference a busy one full of catching up on sleep, work, and family.
I like to follow up about one to two weeks after the conference. When you follow up remind the person who you are and something you talked about in your conversation. This will help them to remember who you are. Another great way to follow up is to follow all of your new friends on their social media and be an active follower by liking and commenting on their feeds. This will not only help you to develop a stronger friendship but it will create a strong supportive community for you.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you. It’s not rocket science and I’m claiming to be one of those too, but with a little planning, self discpline, and confidence you can be a rockstar at networking. Now go hustle!
If you have any questions or comments, or extra advice on this topic I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.