How To and How Not To Connect After Illuminate

Illuminate is just around the corner and I’m betting that some of you have never been to a conference. After checking out the loot in your swag bags, sifting through a stack of colorful business cards, and reviewing your notes, you might wonder, NOW WHAT? I know I did and figured sharing what I learned about connecting with others would be a great thing to share with Vend Raleigh. There are many of you about to be in the same boat after all.


The Good – Key Ways to Connect After Illuminate

  1. Write emails. Find those business cards of the handful of people you really connected with on a deeper level. Reach out even if you don’t think they will remember you.
  2. Personalize your emails with their name and include something else personal such as a topic you chatted about or what you enjoyed most about meeting them. It makes people feel much more special.
  3. Referrals. Know a friend who needs a travel agent, a photographer, or a handmade gift for their niece? Pass someone’s name and make sure they know who sent them. Oftentimes, we aren’t in the market for something ourselves but we know others who are. Because most businesses thrive on referrals, this is a wonderful way to connect in a more low key way.
  4. Have no fear? Clear a day in your schedule in the next few weeks to meet your favorite contact for coffee. Invite them to connect in person and chat about business goals for the year, parenting, or favorite books.
  5. Thank the guest speaker and other conference organizers in person or via email. Rumor has it, they have been working hard and taking time away from their families. Just saying. I swear they didn’t ask me to say that and I’m not on the committee, so that’s a totally impartial suggestion.
  6. If you blog, writing a post about Illuminate is a great way to provide your thoughts about the conference and share your favorite take away points.


The Bad – Don’t Making These Mistakes

  1. Don’t forget to follow up with someone if you made any kind of promise. Did you say you’d send pricing information to someone? Did you mention a cool article that you wanted to share? Did you think of a resource that someone would really benefit from? Send those out in a timely fashion because it enhances their impression of you as a reliable person they can trust.
  2. Remember not to see each person you meet as “a person I can sell my stuff to” and instead see them as “a person I can learn from”. Chances are high that you’ll meet a potential client, but don’t make that the focus of your time at Illuminate or your follow-ups.
  3. I admit this is a minor point, but when you send an email, make sure it’s short and to the point. People tend to prefer concise communication so short and sweet emails always win (and are more likely to be read and responded to).

The Ugly – How Not To Network After Illuminate EVER

  1. Do not sift through your stack of business cards and add each person to your email marketing list. It’s actually considered spam and it’s annoying. Plus, you really want to be marketing to those who want to hear about your products, not people who are more likely to mark your emails as spam and get you blacklisted. Take home message: people should be opting in on their own. Opting in does mean they say “Here’s my email!” or “I enjoy jewelry. Your samples are so cute!” That’s not opting in to your email marketing. In fact, most providers require that your subscribers have given you written, verifiable permission. Eeek. So just be aware and use a list like this that explores different real life situations to see how yours stacks up. After all, a healthy marketing list is a really important tool for any business.
  2. Do not friend people and then add them to Facebook groups without checking to see if they want to join. This goes for parties, hangouts, and other product-centered activities. I’ve asked this question to many real life people and have yet to find one who enjoys this practice. I don’t think it’s illegal though, but it’s not likely to make you long time clients or friends. So engage and check with your new Facebook friends first.

So man, suddenly I left us on this really negative smarmy note. Let’s see if we can fix that.

{inhales a fancy essential oil concoction}

Pumpkin spice latte’s are back at Starbucks! And I bet that dropping your kids off at a sitter, grabbing a PSL (that’s the lingo these days I hear), and heading to Illuminate is just the way to kick off your fall! You are guaranteed to meet at least one new connection and are likely to find even more. For those that have a harder time feeling comfortable in social situations, use lunch as nice way to meet the person next to you. We are lucky to have a women-focused business-focused organization like Vend Raleigh in our area so make the most of it.

(headshots by Jess Rotenberg Photography)


Vend Raleigh Illuminate 2015

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Jess Rotenberg
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