IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU NEED TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS.In the past, whether it has been a business luncheon, an after-hours networking event, or even a charity golf scramble, making yourself and your company available has been imperative. Digital technology, however, has changed the visibility game — and it’s for the better.
From email to Twitter, event marketers have started to use all sorts of digital tools for promotional and participation purposes. Virtual events like webinars, video conferences and digital trade shows continue to show great promise and are being incorporated regularly into marketing strategies. This digital focus has helped turn simple events into interactive marketing environments, places where social networking and blogging can play a part in the networking efforts of event participants.
Social media is being utilized more often as a way to increase event participation and to enable attendees to share their experiences while engaging and networking with each other. It has become a common practice for attendees to broadcast tweets from an event or update their Facebook statuses, enabling them to talk about the event and network with other attendees without being face-to-face with these potential new business contacts.
By utilizing social media, marketers are taking practical steps to make their events more accessible. Setting up a Twitter hashtag that is unique to a specific event, for example, enables all tweets from and about the event to be easily organized and located. A unique event hashtag allows attendees and non-attendees to search on other social media platforms to locate where the specific conversation about the event is taking place, delivering the potential for virtual networking. By following an event’s hashtag, attendees have the means to share their thoughts about an event and shake virtual hands with a potentially large pool of contacts. As a participant, if the event has its own hashtag, follow it using your mobile device. Take some time to focus solely on the social networking aspect of an event. Follow the comments and join the conversation. See if you can move these virtual conversations to in-person meetings.
Using digital tools to network at events can open up many avenues that lead to new contacts, so it is no longer necessary to be physically present to be in attendance. Virtual networking can be very beneficial, but should only be one part of a successful plan. Make sure you balance your time between digital networking and traditional networking. Don’t let the virtual conversation replace your face-to-face networking efforts. At times, there is no substitute for a handshake and a smile.