Live events are back! In fact, I’m headed to one right now in New York. But can we remember how to meet up in person? Here are some of my top strategies. I’d love to hear from you about your own tips, too.
Most conferences now include QR codes on badges. The good news is, they scan right into your contacts. The bad news is, you get back from the conference with massive new contacts in apps that don’t really mesh with your own system. Plus, you may have no idea what you discussed with those people. So what I like to do is jot reminders in my Google Keep notes app so I can copy-paste them into my contacts.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? You can have the person hold up their badge ID next to their face for a photo. For really fun or key moments, I’ll also take a selfie to share afterwards with an email follow up. People actually appreciate these because they can’t remember who they spoke to either!
Bring business cards
With the digital scans mentioned above, it may seem like business cards aren’t needed. But I can’t tell you how many people appreciate them. First, it’s tangible. Second, you can jot a note right on the card. And third, in many countries a card exchange is required to begin a serious business exchange. With so many easy, cheap cards available from places like Moo.com, why not have some handy!? You can even include a QR code that goes right to your website or demo reel.
Instead of “what do you do?” ask “where are you from? Most people are happy to talk about their hometown. And you might remember each other better with this conversation starter, too. Another tip: instead of immediately pitching yourself/your company, try to find something the person you are meeting could find helpful. For example, another connection (“oh, let me introduce you to Charisse, it sounds like their web marketing company is just what you are looking for!”) or it could be another kind of help (“If you are ever filming in Miami, I know a great videographer you could call.”) People get very tired of hearing other people’s elevator pitches, so you will make yourself stand out, and get further by being known as a “connector”—someone everyone wants to know!
Get out of your comfort zone
Planned meetings are great at key industry events. But nothing beats serendipity. I’ve bumped into so many people over the years who have led me to key clients, collaborators and vendors, that I can’t even count them. So don’t make your every moment be scheduled. Enjoy the serendipity!
Most people are swamped with unread emails the week following a major film festival or conference. I will typically wait 2-4 weeks to follow up, unless there was a mutual agreement for something sooner. But that doesn’t mean I don’t draft the emails right when I get back, before I forget our vibe or what we discussed.
Try local transportation
Local transportation is where you’ll get to meet, well, the locals. So while it’s fun to hang out with conference attendees, don’t forget to try local metro or bus systems. Many events will include vouchers for free or discounted transportation during your stay. Check at conference welcome tables and see what you can get. For the recent IBC event in Amsterdam, I got a free bus pass which gave me access to the entire city for two days.
Ever since losing my voice before hosting a major livestreamed session at an event, and getting an emergency delivery of a box of these from a colleague, I’ve been a believer in Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystal “tea”. Also lozenges, plenty of water, and protein bars (these vegan Hazelnut ones from Trader Joes’ are pretty tasty). When I’m a speaker at an event, I generally also bring protein drinks as they won’t stick in my teeth! Of course hand sanitizer has always been a must, and now more than ever. Get the kind that can snap onto your backpack or purse.
I love to travel and meet new people, so I’m thrilled to get back to in-person events. Whether you love them or don’t, hopefully these tips will help you succeed as you venture out in person!