Three ways to socially network your next live conference

Thanks to social media, conferences start well before the opening session, and keep going well beyond the closing remarks.

While social networks and technology have made it possible for anyone on the globe to connect and learn electronically, there is still a need for onsite conferences. There's an immeasurable value to connecting with colleagues on a face-to-face basis that cannot be replaced by social media.

Photo credit: Joe McKendrick

Still, social networking can greatly enhance your conference experience. In a new post at the Vocus blog, Brian Conlin does a good job of detailing the role social can play in...well, being social. The bottom line is social media now starts conferences weeks before the official opening session, and then keeps the conference going months after the meeting rooms are swept up and vacuumed.

Conlin offers 11 tips; here are my three favorites.

1.) Before the conference, scan Twitter lists: "Conference organizers often will have a list of speaker or attendee Twitter handles a month or two before the conference," Conlin writes. "Skim the list to find the people you most want to network with."

2.) Before the conference, check existing contacts. "Networking doesn’t happen just at the conference," Conlin writes. Take the opportunity to invite a LinkedIn or Facebook contact for coffee "when you get a break from conference activities."

3.) After the conference, take advantage of best connections. "Identify several people you had the best interaction with and make it a point to engage them," Conlin writes. "Comment on their blog, tweet at them, or find them on Google+. Make sure your engagement provides value to them."

In short, be proactive -- networking won't happen if you sit on the sidelines. (You can read Conlin's eight remaining tips here.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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