Going to a Conference? 4 Tips to Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Conference Networking RoomIn a digital age, it’s very easy to hide behind our screens. It’s much easier to be bold over e-mail than face-to-face. But direct, real life communication is still incredibly important, and as long as there are options for you to be present and involved in-person, there will be networking opportunities that you wouldn’t find otherwise. A writer for Adelphi University put it best when they said, “Though these events might not immediately score you the position of your dreams, they will certainly establish inroads with [other professionals].”

Let’s talk about the importance of putting your best foot forward when you attend events, and how to use this digital age — e-mails, social media, and the like — to enhance your in-person networking experience. Using all of the applicable tools at your disposal is of the utmost importance and undoubtedly helps your career and your personal brand.

1. If You’ve Met Someone Online, Go Talk To Them In Person

In the social media age, we’ve all experienced seeing someone we’re “friends” with or that we “follow” on a certain platform, and not knowing how to approach them in real life. This is perfectly normal and meeting people after these interactions is daunting for many. Nonetheless, you need to put yourself out there.

If we’ve had even the most minor interactions with them online — a few e-mails, comments back and forth, or any other kind of conversing — go up and introduce yourself. Chances are they’ll respect you being assertive enough to say hi, and it’ll not only put a face to your name and brand, but a memory with you in it.

2. If You Meet Someone In Person, Go Talk To Them Online

By nature of going to a networking event or conference, you have to meet new people. In fact, you would have to go out of your way to not meet anyone new. So that being said, when you make new connections, try to get the person’s contact information. It’s probably possible to find it online if you forget, but there’s no harm in sending an email or message saying “Hey, it was great to meet you the other day and I hope we can work together in the future.”

This follow up is very important. It reminds them you exist and gives you an advantage over everyone else they met at the conference who didn’t follow up with them. You are instantly more memorable than other people, and maybe more important. It also shows your own personal interest in what they do and who they are, which goes a long way when they need something you can offer.

3. Be a Person, Not a Sales Pitch

Networking is not a chance for you to put on your best door-to-door salesman outfit and look for people that can give you money. People who treat it that way are perceived as tools and don’t usually get very far. Rather, you should be personal and understand that the people you’re meeting are in the same business as you and are therefore your peers.

Of course, there is a hope with anyone you meet that you’ll benefit from each other, but take the time to get to know each other on a deeper level. It’s not a waste of time, it’s what networking is all about. Hopefully you guys are able to link up in the future and this relationship proves to be productive.

4. Yes… Dress to Impress While Networking

All of this said, you are still representing a brand or business. The term “dress to impress” can be taken literally and metaphorically. Don’t dress like a slob; show that you care and are passionate about what you do. You are there to represent yourself and your brand, so go out with the intention of learning how you may improve, and share your own ideas with others. Be on your A game.

Be an accessible peer and come across like you know what you’re doing. Being personable does not mean being overtly casual. So watch what you say and do and of course, make sure all of your clothes fit you well.

Thoughts? Concerns? Disagreements? Agreements? Insights? Etc.? Send them all to me on Twitter @Robolitious.

P.S. Comment below with your own networking tricks and tips. Or find your next conference or networking event and put these new skills to use.

Event Tips >

Street Team Marketing: Here to Stay or Fading Away?

StreetTeam-PostersGrowing up in independent music, I heard the word “street team” thrown around quite a bit. Fans signed up for a band or label’s street team and got a package of stickers, buttons, maybe some t-shirts and posters and informed friends and others about said musical entity. Street team members got into shows or VIP events for free and were continually sent free merchandise, and all they had to do is tell people about records and upcoming shows.

With the social media era however, street teams have mostly faded out … or so I thought.

My friend (we’ll call her Jane) recently brought street teams back to my attention. She was a part of the street team for What the Festival (WTF) earlier this year.

This intrigued me, as I haven’t thought about street teams for awhile. So I talked to a few people to try and find out whether or not street teams are relevant in 2016. Are festivals still using street teams? What about indie bands and labels?

A quick search revealed that Summer Camp Festival, Summer Set Festival, The Untz Festival and Bonnaroo (among others) have active street teams. Extending to the punk scene, Gainesville’s The Fest has a street team.

Colleges, businesses, trade shows and nonprofits also utilize street teams, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the music industry.

The Details
I thought that, since I already had the EDM-insider from Jane, I would reach out to Sarasvati from The Fest and see how they use street teams. After all, I’ve always wanted to go, so if there was some sort of free ride in, I wanted to know about it.

“We send posters and postcards for street teamers to put up around their area. That’s the only job we ask them to do,” replied Sarasvati upon me asking her what a street team member did. “There is no compensation.” I asked how many members their team had and where they were located. Sarasvati’s answer surprised me. “We don’t actively look for members … we had less than 10 people email us asking to participate this year. They were from all over the country.” Hmm… is this a sign that street teams are dying out?

I compared that to what Jane told me about WTF. “Basically, [I promoted WTF] through social media, and I did posters last year too,” she explained. “I had a ticket link and when people used my ticket link, I got points toward a free ticket and prizes. Some of the social media posts also got you points toward your ticket.”

WTF seemed to have a more effective street team and intriguing incentives. I asked Jane if the people who bought tickets from her would have bought them regardless. To my surprise, she said yes. “All of my friends went, so it was just convenient that I had the ticket link to get points. It’s more about who you know, and we happened to have a big group of us going to WTF, so they just helped me out by using my link.”

The Verdict
It seems that with large, well-known festivals, traditional street teams may be unnecessary, as people who attend those festivals would do so regardless. That said, street teams work well if the end goal is to get a crowd energized and build excitement, not necessarily to sell tickets. For example, Daft Punk did a creative online and traditional street team campaign to promote an album launch.

Get Street Team writes, “The key to street team marketing success, whether executed online, offline or both is recruiting fans who are truly passionate about your brand.”

Other Options

Email lists
Subscription lists are not spam … or at least, they don’t have to be if done correctly. Essentially, if you can get people to sign up for your email list, you can let them know about your next event. If they care about your brand, they’ll probably be interested in what you’re doing, and if they’ve signed up for your list, you have their permission to tell them about it.

Booth Marketing
Consider booth marketing at a festival within the same genre to spread the word. Avoid the same season as your event, so that you’re not in competition. Give out cool swag and ask attendees to sign up for your mailing list or follow you on social media. Personally connecting with potential attendees and answering questions on the spot can extend your reach and help gain new fans.

Keep in mind that my opinions come from an outsider’s perspective. How do you use your street team? How effective is it? Comment below or let me know your thoughts on Twitter @Robolitious.

Event Tips >