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Are You Getting The MOST Out Of Events You Attend? - Debra Trappen
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Make the most out of networking!

Are You Getting The MOST Out Of Events You Attend?

No matter what time of year it is, there are always networking opportunities.   Kick-off meetings, women’s conferences, sales rallies, tech conferences, BarCamps, marketing summits, leadership retreats… you name it – experts are engaging across the globe to share best practices, exchange/elevate ideas and empower audiences – all year long!

If you spend a handful of hours to prepare, are intentional while you are there and focus on your follow-up – you WILL take your return on investment of time and money all the way to 11!

This post shares some of my favorite tips to prepare before, during and after an event… Here we go!



1. Rock Your PRE-Planning Phase

Know what you want to accomplish, the people you want to meet and be prepared!

Review the attendee list

Many conferences have Facebook Groups for attendees to engage BEFORE you get there. Make sure to search and uncover the ones for events you plan to attend.

If there is an online event invitation, RSVP there too.  Facebook, Google, and Eventbrite are great resources to find events AND the people who are planning to attend!

Create your FOCUS LIST

Write down 11+ people with whom you want to meet and/or build a deeper connection.
You will certainly see/meet more than this, however, if you are not focused an event can fly by with your list unmet!

Leverage Social Media

Create Facebook and Twitter lists (If you use G+, create a circle) of your “focus list” connections and PAY ATTENTION.
Review their last 11 posts to find out what they have been up to lately
Make a note or two about each person (ideally these are things you share in common – on a personal level)


Follow hashtags

If there is a hashtag for the event – search/review/engage before you get there.
If you use a social media dashboard – like Hootsuite – SAVE the search and review it daily before the event.
If you don’t see a hashtag mentioned anywhere on the website or invite, message the event planner or social media director and ask them what it will be.

There have been many times I have done this and the event connection has overlooked creating one.  They will be grateful to you for the reminder and for sparking conversations about their event in the social stream!  Be sure to intro yourself to them at the event too… They can always use a smiling face during the insanity of producing a conference.


Plan your “event kit” with my checklist!

Over the years, I have spoken at and attended hundreds of conferences and events. I put together a checklist over the years and happy to share it with you now.  It has everything from mints or battery packs on it! ;)


Schedule Appointments

Be sure to schedule at least 3 intentional connection chats with people you DO NOT KNOW already.  You likely know SOMEONE they know (try looking them up on LinkedIn and seeing who your “in common” are…) – so you can start with a warm introduction – if you need it!  It could be a simple coffee chat, connect in the halls conversation, lunch or happy hour meet up.


2. Who’s Your Wing Woman? *wink*

As important as it is for you to research and know the “key people” you want to meet at an event, the same holds true for the person(s) with whom you attend networking events and conferences.  Most of us sign up to attend events with co-workers, business partners, friends, etc.  It is important to remember (no matter what you WANT to believe) how they behave indirectly reflects on you – positively or negatively.

Set yourself up for success by doing the following:

  • Arm them with some basic knowledge of the people on your focus list
  • Introductions MATTER!  Know exactly how to introduce them to others… they create ripples.
    (Download the free chapter of my book to help you put your niche statements together: debratrappen.com/freechapter.  This is the PERFECT way to introduce yourselves to others!)
  • Make sure you both have a few great stories to share about each other.  Peppering recent awards/recognition, cool new projects, their ONE BIG THING they want to talk about is perfect here.
  • Have a signal for when you are socializing and can’t recall someone’s name!  This will alert them to jump in and introduce themselves (and uncover the name in the process!




3. Ditch The Boring Small Talk

No need for random, small-talk with those on your FOCUS LIST. Instead of talking about where they ate dinner or the crazy weather, be sure to check their social profiles and connect on:

Topics from their last few social media posts
Recent posts you read that would be of interest to them
Find out what their BIG FOCUS for the event is…
Are they looking for a specific connection? Type of service? Want to share their new product?
Intentionally introducing them to someone they MUST meet!


4. Everything in MODERATION

Are you ready for some REAL TALK?  There are not many quicker career/reputation killers than public displays of insane drunkenness at professional functions.  Just because it is at night does not mean you can revert to college days, my friend.   Please don’t embarrass yourself by dancing like a crazy person – on the tables… or worse – get caught in inappropriate situations, falling down, or act aggressively in any way.  You get the idea.  You KNOW someone this has happened to.  Don’t let it be YOU.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be the life of the party, but if your clients were to see you – would they really hire you for a gig representing them or their company?  Think about it. Carefully.  Have FUN, but don’t overdo it.

This also goes for too much sugar. Not only will it hurt your waistline and sleep… it will kill your productivity the day after!

FIRE UP tips:

Have a glass of wine or two (or whatever your drink of choice is) and a scrumptious, rich nibble… then switch to club soda with a twist of citrus and healthy finger foods. Still festive, but HYDRATING!
Eat throughout the day.  Drinking on an empty stomach is a fast lane to embarrassment.
Drink lots of water – all day long. Coffee might taste good, but don’t let it become your beverage of the day.

Keeping yourself hydrated and armed with healthy snacks will keep you on your toes the entire event.


5. Stand Out!

We are all meeting oooooodles of new people, so how do you possibly stand out? We know being memorable is key at conferences, so consider a couple of my favorite tips:

Give a memorable takeaway…
Ditch your boring business cards and try something new like moo.com’s mini moos, rounded corners, squares, etc! You want to not only remain top of mind but also completely accessible, post-event.

Mesmerize with interesting and intriguing conversation skills! *wink*
Instead of always answering “what do you do” with your basic reply, replace the answer with your niche statement!

Why not ask a different question when you meet new people?

The number one question we ask in North America is “What do you do for a living?” Ugh – really?

Try asking “What do you do for fun?” or “What is your current passion project?” and see the conversation spark with energy!


If you ask this – make sure you have a reply ready to go. If you don’t know how to have fun – don’t ask others what they do for fun. ;)


6. Post Photos WISELY

Are you capturing photos of speaker slides or sharing tips/tricks from expert panelists?
YES? Share those photos “in the moment” – loud and proud.

However, when you post photos or videos of the fun, social events – be careful –  very careful.  You don’t want your judgment impaired or reputation marred… or anyone else’s who may be in (or in the background of) your pics.

Sadly, not everyone is getting the tips shared about moderation!

A few tips:

  • Make sure each person in the photo looks FAB.  No belly rolls or double chins, please. You want people to be HAPPY you posted the photo, not immediately try to UNTAG themselves.
  • Simply ask yourself – “Would I want this photo posted of me?”
    Then post accordingly!
  • Make sure to TAG each person in the photo (If you are not connected to them, be sure to send a friend request, too!)
  • Pay attention to the conversations your photos spark
    Acknowledge the comments by liking and responding to them


PLEASE do not post and RUN…   The “post and run” is like hosting a cocktail party in your home, decorating your space, opening the front door and then running up to hide in your room all night!

Engage with the likes and comments… Keep the conversation going – long after the event!




7. Follow Up! Follow Up! Follow Up!

Send a thank you note to key connections
If you acquired a snail mail address – post a handwritten one. If you didn’t, sending an email will do.
Be sure to include one of two elements from your conversation to refresh their memory!

1. Connect ONLINE with each person you met

2. Check out their website and sign up for their blog RSS feed!

3. Connect on LinkedIn (if they are someone you would refer or want/will be doing business in the future)

4. Send a friend request on Facebook (if you are ready to “be friends”)

5. Like (or at least engage on) their business page, authentically and if appropriate

6. If they have additional social icons on their website – follow them on the platforms you have in common

ALWAYS include a PERSONAL NOTE via a private message on each platform. Don’t take it personally, but most people won’t remember you – especially after a few days.  Including a quick note will increase your acceptance rate! 



  • Social Stream Review
    • Review the Facebook Groups for topics you may have missed
    • Look for people you met, but did not exchange info with – and connect
    • Many speakers/organizations post their slides from presentations post conference
    • LIKE the business pages of the speakers and educators who impacted you the most.
    • Take it to 11–> Send them a note to let them know!
  • Review all of the notes you took
  • Prioritize what you want to implement… remembering one goal = MANY tasks and actions
  • Find an accountability partner.  Ideally, choose a person who attended the same conference is ALSO interested in implementing the same thing…
  • Set appointments on your calendar to check in with YOURSELF and your accountability partner(s) on your progress

These events are the perfect opportunity to build your business, engage and strengthen your relationships, elevate your knowledge and GROW.  Having fun can also be productive – when you FOCUS.

Let’s do this!

Stand up. Put your hands in the air.
Shout this out:






Now is the time.
This is the place.
YOU are the one.

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