Conferences/Networking events are a great way to market your company, especially if you operate in a B2B environment like I do. You get to meet with people in your industry face to face and build rapport with current clients and prospects/partners who can potentially add value to your product or service offerings. It's also more effective and faster than cold calling b/c you potentially have the decision maker in front of you and after a Martini or three they're receptive to the idea of working with you.
Marketing Highbrid Media via these types of events has proven to be a great way to generate new business, and I've been fortunate enough to be asked to be a speaker on panels or in workshops at these events. This is the next level b/c now the event organizers are literally and figuratively putting you on a pedestal which sends a message to other attendees and panelists (your peers) "This individual is an expert in his/her field and he/she is going to share some of their expertise with us today".
I love this type of opportunity not only does it stroke my ego to be on stage, but I get to speak to an entire room full of people as opposed to meeting people one at a time qualifying or disqualifying them as people I'd like to connect with and after the panel is finished you become the hunted as opposed to the hunter. And while it's great to feel wanted, too many times in the course of this interaction do I have the "Do you have a card" moment.
The "Do you have a card" moment is when a conference attendee or someone in the audience comes up to me and asks me "Do you have a card" , no formal introduction or informing me of what it is you or your company does and how we can possibly work together, no common thread or reference to build a comfort level where I actually feel like giving you a card is worth it and often interrupting a conversation that I was having with someone else.
Networking is a skill and if you hone this skill it will pay benefits far beyond what you ever expected. Part of that skill is having the ability to analyze a situation decide what approach you are going to use and executing that approach tactfully and respectfully. Don't perpetuate the "Do you have a card" moment. Why should anyone give you a card and you haven't even stated your name. In Asian business culture the exchange of cards or contact information is held in very high regard. Cards are exchanged using two hands and a slight bow then you read the entire card back and front and hold onto it while in the persons presence before putting it in your shirt or jacket pocket. If you're sitting at a table you place the cards in front of you and have them in order from leader to subordinates.
Your network is going to determine your net worth, so why not make sure the people in your network are people that you can actually do business with or at least connect on some similar business level. How does one go about doing so? By Qualifying! In the initial conversation discuss what intriguied you to approach this individual, is it something they said is it a common thread of a shared client/colleague is it a genuine business opportunity. Whatever it is using this to create dialogue and build a rapport is much more effective in making a serious connection. Do you have a card should probably be one of the last things you ask, not the first.