January 24, 2013
Networking 2.0 : Online networking for a better offline experience

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

This statement is the reason why we go to networking events.

Because of social media a new style of networking has been evolving. I call it Networking 2.0, the combination of the best practices of traditional offline networking with those of the new online social networking.

Meeting new people can be daunting, and for some people it can be
extremely intimidating. After reading this post you will have the basics
to confidently walk into any Networking 2.0 event. People you have
never physically met before will be expecting you and eager to connect
with you.

The tips I suggest are so simple you will be able to implement most right after reading this post and leverage them tonight. (If you do, please comment below to let me know how it went!)

For context as to why I can make such a bold claim, my name is Joselin Mane, the co-founder of BostonTweetUp. For the last 4 years I have been going to 2 or 3 networking events per weeknight on average. I am also an introvert, so if I can do it, you can too.

Here are the top 6 tips I recommend you do before, during and after
going to a networking event. Even though you can apply these same
tactics for online networking events, I will be primarily focusing on
offline / face to face networking events.

Every networking event can be broken down into three phases: Before, During and After.

1. Create a game plan and define success. This is
extremely important because it can be the difference between you leaving
the event excited with an abundance of opportunities or frustrated and
possibly depressed knowing that you wasted your time. Since everyone’s
personal goals are different, so is everyone’s game plan.
Examples include:
a. Find a Mentor – ideal for someone at the beginning of their career
b. Search for a New Career – Anyone looking for a transition
c. Seek Employment – Anyone in this economy
d. Grow a Business – Anyone looking to expand their business and looking for a new employee, co-founder, business partner, etc.

A game plan will determine when you arrive, how long to stay, how to dress and what to say to everyone you meet.

2. Update your online persona. What does Google say
about you? Everyone is a brand, especially if you leverage social
media. Everything you share across social media channels defines you.
What do your last 5 shares say about you? Are your blog and social media
profiles consistent? Make sure your blog and all your primary social
media profiles are to up-to-date.

a. – This website
allows you to search across 500 social media sites to see if your
username is available. This is great tool for any brand. If your
username is available, claim it on all the major networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. - Twitter and LinkedIn are the two best tools for networking) as well as the ones that are specific to your industry. (This tip allowed me to control the first 300 references to my name on Google and you can do the same for your brand!)

b. or
– These almost identical sites allow you to create your own personally
branded website within five minutes. Once you create an account then
you can link all your social media sites to it as the central hub of
your brand.

– This site allows you to easily update your social media profiles. So
if you have already setup your social media accounts and you want to
change the profile picture in all the accounts, this tool helps you do
it all from its site.

3. Start connectingEventbrite, Meetup and even Facebook
now list the attendees. Review online profiles to know people that
have signed up for the event. Search for the primary people you want to
meet. These will be the people you look for during the event. You
know you already have something in common with them, which is that you
are both going to the event.

a. Easy – Tweet that you are going to the networking event and
include the Twitter account(s) of the organizers. The organizers will
not only appreciate you helping promote their event but more importantly
they will most likely remember you when you arrive at the event.
Generally speaking the event organizers of any Networking 2.0 events are
the most important people to meet first because they tend to know
everyone who is coming. Because they know everyone they can most likely
connect you with the people you need to meet.

b. Medium – Tweet the people you look forward to connecting with

i.e. “@ThePersonsName Hi I see you’re going to #EventHashtag hosted
by @EventTwitterHandle or @EventOrganizerTwitterHandle. Question. (i.e.
Have you gone before or something related to their bio?)”

If you develop a good rapport then you can coordinate a specific time
to meet them. If it’s a Networking 2.0 event it is encouraged to
connect with the other attendees before.

c. Advanced – Volunteer to help in any way possible. One of
the best jobs to volunteer for is event photographer. As event
photographer you get to meet everyone at the event. Make sure to go to
the event early take some before pictures. If taking event pictures is
not your thing figure out what you can do to help.

Goal: Establish and/or solidify your online brand.

1. Connect yourself – Get to the event early so that you can connect with the organizers of the event.

2. Connect others – Connect people to each other as
quickly as possible. This is a more advanced technique but it is
extremely effective and will make you instantly memorable.

3. Take photos – Even if it’s with your smart phone, create a memory of the experience. Use an app called Cardmunch
if you have an iPhone or just take a photo of the business cards you
receive, just in case you lose them in transit. Cardmunch uses the
photo of the business card, finds their LinkedIn profile and sends it
directly to your phone. This will help you easily stay connected with
the person.

1. Follow up with context. The best time to follow up
is within 24hrs of the event. If the conversation went well then setup a
follow up meeting for coffee.

2. Create a blog post about the event, which will
include the photos you took and the people you met. People love to look
at photos of other people so by creating a blog post about the event you
can almost be assured to get traffic to your website. Storify
lets you easily cut and paste tweets and other social content into a
story about the event that you can easily embed onto your blog.

There is a lot more, but these tips should get you started today.
Please leave a comment below and let me know how it went. I also
created an infographic for your convenience.
If you want more info about Networking 2.0 visit and/or to get a copy of my book Networking 2.0 : How social media has redefined the way we connect.

Joselin Mane is a Co-Founder of BostonTweetUp.  You can follow Joselin (@JoselinMane) on Twitter by clicking here.