Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Networking your way to success at BlogPaws 2014 takes some savvy and a bit of common sense. In my years as a speaker and host of various networking events I have seen far too many individuals who will walk up to someone and say, “Here’s my business card. Give me a call.”
I always wonder whether the person who received the card will do that. Would you? Why would you call someone simply because they pressed a card into your hand and walked away to do the same to the next business owner in the room. I can’t see any reason for it. In my experience, people want to do business with people they, “know, like and trust.” You certainly can’t build upon those three essential tenets without taking time to have a conversation, a getting-to-know you session over coffee after the networking event is over.
Here are my tips for networking success when you’re at the BlogPaws 2014 social media conference or at any networking event you may be attending in your pursuit of excellence in your pet blogging efforts:
- Know, like and trust. This doesn’t mean you have to become BFFs with a business colleague, but they do need to know you are a genuine, ethical business professional (and yes, as a pet blogger you are running a business). Take time to get to know your potential business partner and what his or her pain points are and how you can help them with the services that you offer.
- Know your goals for attending BlogPaws 2014, or any networking event or conference, for that matter. Do you want to mix and mingle with people you’ve friended on social media sites? Are you looking to build a relationship with a brand? Do you want to interact with pet bloggers to see if you can guest blog for them or vice versa? Knowing your ultimate goals in attending a conference will help you use your time wisely. You don’t want to leave a conference thinking, “Oh, my gosh I didn’t meet XYZ or learn how to ABC.” Pre-planning is crucial to conference success.
- While you don’t want to interject yourself into every conversation or into every group that is standing around talking, you certainly do want to say hello and meet new people. Pet people are generally as friendly and welcoming as their pets so don’t be afraid to walk up to a group of people who are talking, wait for a break in the conversation and ask a polite, “May I join you?” I can almost guarantee that at a BlogPaws conference you will be welcomed with open paws, er arms! Another way to “meet” people before the conference is to join the BlogPaws Community and interact with the Newbies Group — that way they will feel like old pals once you meet them in “real life.”
- When you’re at a pet conference the natural ice breaking question is, “What kind of pet do you have?” The conversation will most assuredly flow from there. If you’re at a non-pet conference or networking event, asking a question along the lines of, “What is your business?” will get the conversation started. Asking an open ended question or one that allows the individual you’re meeting with to tell you about him- or herself is the best way to get the conversation moving. Hint: chances are you will be asked what you do and you will want to have your “elevator pitch” ready.
- Once the conference is over, make sure you follow through and follow up with the people you’ve met. If you’ve talked with someone at the conference and have exchanged business cards, send a follow up email thanking them for having taken the time to talk to you at the conference, add a bit of personal info to the message so they know it’s not a mass email. What could you add that’s personal? Mention their dog, or if they were wearing a unique piece of jewelry or mentioned something during your conversation that struck a chord — bring that up in your email; it will show them you truly remembered who they were and that you made a connection. Hint: this is all a part of the “know, like and trust” that you’re building. If you’re afraid you won’t remember a pertinent fact about someone you’ve met, write it on the business card they’ve given you — don’t rely on your memory.
What are your reasons for attending BlogPaws 2014 or any conference or networking event? Make your plans early. Look at speaker sessions, agendas, etc. to get a feel for the conference and make your game plan.