Making Your Business Connections Count – Master the Art of Human Networking

Networking online, through social media channels, email, and LinkedIn, is something everyone I know does pretty well. After all, you can take all the time you like to compose your pitches and online networking comes without the stress and anxiety that often accompanies face-to-face interaction. But by no means should online networking be the only kind you do! There are certain things that can only get done when meeting and pitching someone in person.

I’m at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference this week in Austin, Texas, and it occurred to me that while I’ve gotten tons of amazing opportunities through my own networking, including television and radio appearances, this isn’t a subject that’s necessarily taught at business school. Many of you, I’m sure, are constantly attending conferences, events, and speaking engagements but if you struggle with getting up the nerve and pitching your idea then I’m going to try and help you by giving up my best tips. Here are the steps I would take before, during, and after an event to ensure I make the absolute most out of my face-to-face networking.

1. Know your subject

Before heading to an event or conference, get a copy of the program or print one out. Make sure you really study the entire program—you should know ahead of time what all of the panels are about and who all of the speakers are.

2. Make a hit list

With your knowledge of every nook and cranny of the program, you should be able to make a “hit list.” A hit list is your personalized list of everyone who will be speaking or attending the conference that you want to get in front of. Do you have an idea you’d like to run by them? An opportunity to present to them? Whatever it is, come up with more names than you’ll ever be able to meet (after all, some opportunities may pass for reasons outside of your control) and then prioritize them. This means making hard decisions and deciding on a #1, a #2, all the way down.

Read the rest of this post on AT&T’s Networking Exchange Blog