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Making the Most of Networking Opportunities

So, you finally saved your pennies (or got a sponsor) and are headed to your first blogging conference. Now is the time to meet like-minded folks, learn more about your craft, and have a great time. Right?

For some folks, networking comes easily. I’m a natural extrovert (you’re SHOCKED, right?), and most of the time I really find it easy to meet new folks and introduce myself and share small talk. But even so, there are moments when I fight the demons of shyness, self-doubt, and sheer emotional overload. So how do you succeed when it comes to networking in a large group, like, for instance at this week’s BlogHer conference?

Here are my favorite tips to make the most of your networking opportunities.

• Have a business card system. No matter what type of networking event you attend, you’ll get business cards, and many of them will be cryptic and short on the info you need (for instance, not that many folks put photos on cards, which surely helps remember them). Make sure you have a pen to jot notes if you need to (and, just a tip, it’s nice to have part of your business card not be glossy so others can write notes too). Also, have one place to put them. If you aren’t familiar with Loralee’s famous punch card system that she learned from Tauni, go check it out it’s a great way to track and keep cards.

• Forgive yourself for having to look at name tags. Seriously. We all do it, none of us can remember everyone we’ve only met once or just know by a twitter name. Just accept the fact that you’ll be needing to reference those name tags. It’s okay.

• Make sure you can describe yourself, your business or blog, and your aspirations in just a few short sentences (as in the famous “elevator pitch”). Sometimes the networking is fast and furious and you’ll have only a moment or two to introduce yourself.

• Compliment people. My friend Erin Loechner is instantly beloved because the very first thing she does is find something she likes about you and compliments you on it. It universally charms the pants off everyone. But be SINCERE! False compliments (I hear the “I love your HAIR!” fake compliment quite a bit).

• Pay attention to the person you are talking to RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Admittedly, this is something I have to remember. At a big conference like BlogHer, I constantly see other folks I know and want to say hello to out of the corner of my eye and it’s a challenge to make sure I’m focusing on the person RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. But no one NO ONE likes to feel like you’re looking for someone “better” to go talk to.

• Pace yourself! Remember that while a conference or other networking event might be for only a limited time, it can still be VERY intense. Make sure to take an hour or two each day for some down time in your room or with close trusted friends so that you can decompress. Trust me it will save your sanity!

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