15 Tips: Conference Commando [Part 2]

Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi

Leading Exponential Change and Expert in Professional Development

[This is part two of "15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi". If you missed part one, read it here. And now for tips 8 through 15.]

#8 Draft off a big kahuna.
Get to know some of the most well-known folks at the conference or the conference organizers themselves and hang with them. The important people will rotate by them sooner or later. If you’re there, you'll meet everyone who matters. And if you need to reach out to someone who doesn’t happen to swing by, ask your new friend—a big kahuna—for an introduction.

#9 Be an info-hub.
Get really familiar with the conference program. Then pick the brains of conference staff and anyone else willing to share the ins and outs of what’s happening in and around the big meeting. If you’re in the loop on the private parties and after-hours special events, everyone will come to you for the goods.

#10 Work hard on break.
Don’t run off to stuff your face or check e-mail between sessions. You should attend to your bagel and BlackBerry while boring speakers like me are blabbing on and on, so when break time comes, you can get out there and do what you really came to the conference to do—meet people!

#11 Hijack a dinner.
True commandos aren’t constrained by the agendas they receive at registration. Arrange a dinner at a special place out on the town you’re visiting with people who care about a particular topic that matters to you, or modify a conference meal that’s already paid for by inviting specific people to join your table as you meet them during the day. There’s usually no assigned seating. And if there is, just tell a conference organizer that you prefer to reassign yourself. They exist to make the conference better for you.

#12 Let your guard down.
When you engage a target contact, don't you dare talk about the weather! It makes no impact at all. Skip the small talk and dive into the stuff that really matters to you and them: interests, passions, struggles, and greatest needs. You’ll have to push yourself to be human and open up enough to get your acquaintance to start sharing. Then listen, listen, listen with warmth and sincerity. And if you are able to help them, do so. Intimacy and Giving are the two keys to making quick connections that jumpstart lasting relationships.

#13 Master the Deep Bump.
Once you’ve successfully taken your conversation with a new acquaintance down deep, past the shallow small talk, secure an invitation to reconnect later. Then bump! Move on and meet more people. Don’t be like the co-dependent ankle hugger who thinks the first person he meets is his best friend forever.* You’ve invested too much time and money in this conference not to take the opportunity to meet many different people. You have a lifetime to build relationships with people at the conference, but only a few days to meet them. 

#14 Take names (and notes).
Before you conclude the Deep Bump, and move on after making a new acquaintance, be sure to get a business card. Of course, you should quickly scan the card and say the person’s name aloud to help commit it to memory. Furthermore, flip over the card and jot down a few words to remind yourself of what you two discussed, any relevant personal details you wish to remember, and, of course, when and why you’re going to follow up later.

#15 Follow up or fail.
Don't wait until you return home from the conference to ping people whose cards you collect. Shoot out follow-up e-mails each night of the event or write them during your flight home. That is, unless you want that same rubber-banded stack of cards on your desk a year from now, which is probably the result of last year’s conference if you went as a commoner and not a commando. 



Purchase Keith Ferrazzi's book, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time at Amazon.com.

For information on booking Keith Ferrazzi, visit www.premierespeakers.com/keith_ferrazzi.

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