How to Maximize Your Networking at the Agents of Change Conference
The date is September 14, 2012; you step into the Agents of Change Conference and there are people who only know you from the online world but can’t wait to meet you in person.
Sounds like a dream? It’s very well possible with a little bit of preparation. I know you’re a busy professional so I’ll make it easy for you, just answer these 6 questions and you’ll be ready to becoming an Agent of Change (cape sold separately).
Grab a blank piece of paper or jump on a tool like Evernote or Google Doc to capture your answers and let’s get started.
1. What’s the bigger picture?
What are you currently working on in your life / business? You want to be clear on what those things are and let the Agents of Change Conference [AOC moving forward] serve as a means to those ends, not as an end to itself.
2. Who can help?
Continuing from the goals listed above you want to think about the people who can actually help you move towards your goal. You may have actual names from The AOC after looking at the Eventbrite attendees list or you may just know formal titles, e.g. Director of Marketing, Chief Social Media Officer, etc. When you are clear on who can help you, it makes it easier to answer the following question if asked, “So, who are you looking to meet?”
3. What do you need to learn?
If you already have all the knowledge needed to hit your goal, you may need to up the ante a bit. Most likely there is a knowledge gap between where you are and where you want to be (end goal). No need to fret. Knowing what you want / need to learn provides you with several advantages. First, when choosing which breakout sessions you will attend at AOC, you can make a decision based on what you need to learn and not just on who you think is a cool speaker– you are definitely going to run into that problem at AOC. Second, your conversation can become much more interesting and fruitful as you quickly move away from talking about the weather and instead focus on sharing the problems you are trying to solve (e.g. “I’m looking for interesting ways to gather information and connecting with people before a conference, have you tried List.ly before? How are you using it?”). Warning: Be ready to be known as the person who asks interesting questions.
4. What do I have to offer?
Alright, a bit into the mental game. I know everyone coming to the AOC conference is super confident and this question doesn’t apply to you, but just in case you know someone who could benefit, I’ll share it. I’ve found that faced with a room of strangers or people you consider A-listers you may start to doubt yourself–no longer. On your sheet of prep paper I want you to write the following Acronym: W.H.E.N. “W” is for Work, “H” is for Hobby, “E” is for Education, “N” is for Network. Capturing where you have been and the people that you know under the Acronym will remind you that you have plenty to offer. Remember, “Not everyone knows what you know or has been where you’ve been.”
Now that you are clear on what you have to offer the next step is to start connecting with others before the event starts. Join the Facebook page, use the Twitter hashtag (#aoc2012) to connect with other like minded people. The end result is people who can’t wait to meet you in person.
5. What should I be thinking as I head into the conference?
There are three main areas that I suggest you focus on when it comes to the mental game.
First, “Positive;” no one likes a negative Nancy or negative Ned. Be the person who is looking for solutions instead of complaining when something goes wrong. I promise you’ll stand out, in a good way.
Second, “Service;” this ties back to question #4. We all have something to offer because we can all be of service. It doesn’t matter if we are subject experts or not, we can find a way to provide some kind of assistance to someone else by asking the following question, “What’s your biggest challenge at the moment?”
Third is “Faith;” I’m not talking about the Holy Trinity on this one. I’m referring to the kind of confidence you get by doing the necessary work to prepare and gain clarity before stepping foot into the conference. When you know what you want and know what you can offer, you significantly increase your chances of being success.
6. How do I get ready?
Create your conference / networking routine. Some people have certain songs they listen to, some reflect on times when they’ve made excellent connections. Others have affirmations like, “I’ve done the necessary work and i’m going to connect with the people I’m supposed to connect with.” Laugh if you will, but I can’t tell you the number of times an affirmation has connected me with the exact person I was looking to meet.
How are you preparing for the Agents of Change Conference? I’d love to kn
ow and I look forward to turning our online connection to an offline one or as I like to call it, #HashtagsToHandshakes.
See you in September.
Mike Ambassador Bruny helps people and companies turn online relationships to offline ones at conferences (otherwise known as #HashtagsToHandshakes). He can be found at www.TheNewArtOfConferenceNetworking.com or a conference near you (just look for the bow tie). Follow him on Twitter: @AmbassadorBruny.