They say that life is entirely sales. I’m not sure I believe that — but I do believe that every encounter is an opportunity to solve a problem, share an idea or tell a story. And when it comes to public speaking, I see so many people waste obvious opportunities to connect beyond the keynote speech or concurrent session.
I know your Powerpoint deck is awesome but it’s not enough to prepare a killer presentation and deliver your information with comfort and style. It’s about positioning yourself properly so you can develop a post-event relationship and make some money by solving a problem, sharing a new idea or telling another story.
In my mind, every speaker must do the following to ensure success at an event.
- Invite people to connect outside the conference. Many audience members are shy. Some don’t want to invade your privacy. I have attended far too many sessions where the speaker forgets to say, “I’m now part of your world. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Say hello to me on Twitter.” Inviting people to connect with you? It’s a no-brainer.
- Collect business cards. For real, those stupid cards matter. Sometimes the event planner will give you an attendee list. Sometimes you don’t get one. Business cards allow you to follow up with a thank you note and another invitation to connect. You can also add that information to your house list and include those people into your overarching communication and messaging strategies.
- Treat the event planner with respect. A good relationship with an event planner means that you’ll be invited back to speak in the future. Treating the event planner like a temporary personal assistant is rude — and it’s also the best way to make sure you’ll never speak at that conference in the future. My tip? I’ve seen the best speakers write very thoughtful, genuine LinkedIn recommendations for event planners. I think that’s a nice touch.
- Make your social media presence count. You should prepare your tweets and automate them so you know exactly what’s out there on the interwebs before your presentation, during, and afterwards. Showcase your best and most helpful stuff. When people find you, let them find gold instead of tweets about your cat.
- Check in on Foursquare or Facebook. You would be surprised how many times I had no idea a friend or an online acquaintance was at a conference until I checked in on Foursquare. “You’re here? I’m here, too!” Translate your online presence into an IRL event strategy.
The single strangest thing about speaking at a conference? People want to come up to you afterward and continue to talk. It’s awesome…
…but you have to clear out of the room and make way for the next session. My advice? Shake everyone’s hand, say thank you and collect business cards. Then be sure to connect online — within 48 hours — while the memory of your session is still fresh.
It’s pretty awesome to have an opportunity to speak at professional events. Don’t squander it by forgetting your conference social strategy!