by Brett Duncan
Twitter Lists have completely changed the way I look at conference and conventions I go to. We all like to stroke the benefit of networking when we do these things (especially while justifying the cost and time out of the office to our bosses), but we so rarely actually network. Whatever relationships we build quickly fizzle. We’re lucky if we know anyone other than our coworkers going into these things, and, at best, the people we do meet will simply get added to our LinkedIn account (which we never check).
Enter Twitter Lists. This simple feature has completely changed what I get out of events (and maybe even why I go to events). What, you’re not using Twitter lists as part of your preparation and planning for your next convention? I’ll spare you the details of creating a Twitter List (you can get that info here). For now, here are six ways you need to put Lists to work right now, whether before, during or after the event:
1. Network Before the Event: This is where Twitter Lists can really help out. First, find out who will be at the event two or three weeks before it starts. Most events now have an event hashtag, so save a search for it and keep an eye on who’s using the hashtag at this point. Follow these folks and add them to a list you create for the event. Chances are you’ll have some fun or interesting conversations with at least a couple people.
2. Look for Registration Lists: Oftentimes, event registrations are made public. I’ve noticed that events that use Eventbrite often list the attendees for other attendees to see, sometimes with their Twitter handle. Others will list it in the program. Take a little time on your way to the event to find these people on Twitter and add them to your event list.
3. Go offline: While you’re at the event, try to meet as many of the people you’re following as possible (especially those you’ve had Twitter conversations with). The fact that you’re Twitter buddies breaks the ice in ways few “networking tactics” can. Instead of sipping on your drink and trying to figure out what corny joke will get you into the conversation, just introduce yourself to people you’ve already met online.
4. Foster the hashtag conversation: While you’re at the event, be sure to continue to participate in the hashtag conversation. Doing so gives you the chance to show your expertise among other people who will appreciate it. But don’t make it all about you; in fact, look more for opportunities to chime in on what other folks are saying. This will only further ingrain you into this community and give you much higher odds of connecting at least somewhat relevantly once the event is over. Also, be sure not to come off as a jackass with your comments. It’s extremely easy to take cheap shots on the goofball who’s on stage, but don’t do it. It makes you look like a schmuck. It’s cool to offer a different opinion, but do it objectively and gently. Nobody likes the guy who’s there to show how much smarter he is than everyone else.
5. Add a Post-Show Personal Touch: Immediately after the event (like, while you’re wasting away at the airport), shoot direct messages to folks you met and thank them for connecting. If you can’t send a direct message (because they haven’t followed you back), then make it a public reply. Either way, keep in mind this is the equivalent of the hand-written thank-you note that takes 10 seconds to write. Your time investment is minimal, but it could make all the difference in terms of staying in touch with this new contact.
6. Stay in Touch … Forever: The real key here is to keep in touch on an ongoing basis after the event. I must confess, I rarely stayed connected to my new acquaintances after a convention. But Twitter Lists have changed that. Now, I add everyone I meet at the event (and many I don’t actually meet) to my event Twitter List. Then I make sure to take a look at that list at least twice a week, and interact on an ongoing basis. It’s simply amazing how much this adds to the level of your relationship. I’ve honestly used this method to cultivate what I consider to be true professional friendships with folks. And though we met in person once, the ongoing contact via Twitter is what actually did the cultivating. In addition, this approach will completely make any return visits to the convention exponentially better. Think about it: if you go to a certain convention every year, and you’re able to keep up with all your contacts throughout the year, then the convention simply becomes one massive Tweet-Up and reunion.
There are tons of other ways to use Twitter Lists in conjunction with your event and convention planning (especially if you’re a sales rep to the industry who’s hosting the convention). How are you using Twitter at events? What other cool ways are you using Lists?
Brett Duncan loves pumping adrenaline into someone’s good idea. He write often at MarketingInProgress.com where he helps smart marketers make stuff happen. He’s currently working on a free ebook, How I Stopped Hating Twitter. Join his list now and be one of the first people to receive a copy.