Yesterday I went to the MLE Connect event organised by the Muslim Lifestyle Expo. It was an event especially to help business connect, and as one of the few bloggers their, I learned so much from the event and how to connect with businesses who might want to collaborate with you.
The event was very much about how to grow your business, and yourself, and I think as Bloggers we need to realise we are also a business, and therefore we need to make sure when we go to a major event or trade show we can maximise our time.
Here are my top tips for to network as a Blogger before, during and after the event.
BEFORE THE EVENT
1) Research the event
Make sure to research the event and find out if it’s the right fit for you. Research is key to make sure you get as much out of the event as you can, and if the exhibitors or brand partners are in line with your topic and values.
I was asked if I would promote some merchandise aimed at children, but I had to politely decline, as my target audience is professional women in their late 20’s and early 30’s who are interested in beauty and lifestyle.
2) Business Cards
I can’t tell you how many people did not come prepared with either no business cards or business cards they had for their other job. Make sure you have the right business cards printed with your contact details to make an impact. It really helps jog people’s memories when you are meeting so many people.
3) Plan Your Outfit
OK, I kind of let myself down on this one, but in my defence I was pretty sick and I still went so I made sure I was comfortable. I think as Bloggers, we need to present the best version of ourselves, so dressing up a little is better than being casual especially as we are trying to promote ourself as a business person.
Next time, I will definetly plan my outfit more!
DURING THE EVENT
4) Get to the venue on time
I just about got to the venue on time, but my train was SO SLOW! I always forget how long it takes to get into central london in the mornings. Always make sure you know what time the event starts, how you’re getting their and any obstacles that might come in your way like slow trains, traffic etc.
5) Network Like Crazy
OK, so again I was a little shy, but the first person I met was this incredible photographer called Aroupa who helped me to break the ice and as the day wore on, I got a lot more confident chatting to people. What I will say is that at this kind of event, it was pretty hard to find everyone or get their attention, so tweet them to meet up if you can.
This worked for me as I was finally able to make a connection with the London History Tours guy who said I was to find him as he had a shiny head! A little Twitter banter back and forth meant we finally got to meet at the end.
I made a heck of a lot of connections but I could have made more if I had been a little less shy and more prepared. If you can, request a vendor list before hand so that you know exactly who to target at the event.
6) Practice Your Elevator Pitch
It’s important to know what you’re not about just as much as it is to know what you’re about. I stumbled a little on my elevator pitch, but I am glad I went as it gave me a lot of learning points and confidence to try my hand at networking and perfecting my elevator pitch.
AFTER THE EVENT
7) Follow Up ASAP
Make sure you follow up with the people who you made a connection with. One tip that came in useful was to write some little facts about the person on their business card so when you follow up you can reference the conversation e.g. one of the attendees lives close to me, so I made sure to reference that when I sent her a follow-up email.
Make sure to tweet, Instagram or Facebook message anyone who follows you after the event and follow back if they’re the right person or organisation for your blog. Social media is such a great way to contact people, utilise it!
I hope you enjoyed my quick guide to networking as a blogger at a conference or trade show. Let me know if my tips helped you, and if you have any suggestions of your own!