Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens. Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call. I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.
Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy. What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email. Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call. Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter. Reach out and ask for it. Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing. This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.
I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity. Here are just a handful of things I have learned:
- Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
- Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
- Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
- Culture is everything. Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.
These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others. Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them. One last word of caution. Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson. Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.
Who do you need to call? What did you learn?
These past 11 days have been rather unique. I recently had surgery on my hip… yes, I am 31 years old and had to get some work done on my right hip. Even though it was outpatient surgery it still shook things up quite a bit. I have been on crutches, unable to drive, limited in some of my functions and mobility, and have had to be far less active than I normally am. Through all of these changes and issues, my wife has been a freaking beast and has killed it.
“For better or worse, in sickness and in health.” Most of us whom are married have uttered these words, and over these past 11 days my wife has perfectly executed on them. I am blown away at her level of service and how she so deeply cared for me. She met my every need and then some. She was always there asking what I needed and offered up help and solutions to problems and wants I didn’t even know that I had
It’s in these inciting incidents, these moments of giant change, when we as people can really shine and make an impact, and that is what my wife did. It has encouraged me to take my game up to 11 and serve her not because of what she has done for me, but because she is more than worth it. When you are served and loved in this way, it only encourages you to do the same. So please let this blog not only honor my wife, but be an encouragement to you to honor those words, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health.” Let this blog be an encouragement to look around you and serve well those that are in your life.
Who is in your life that you need to serve well, and how can you live it out today?
Over the past two days we have gone over some ideas on how to make the most of the actual conference or event you are looking to attend. If you missed either of those posts, you can check out the prep-work that goes into making sure you are ready to crush it by clicking here. If you are wanting some tips and tricks to keep the momentum going and have better conversations and meet more folks, click here.
Now that the prep-work and attending the event are behind us, lets focus on what to do post-event. (You can watch the video breakdown here)
This is the time when we can reminisce about the awesome connections we have made and think about the new relationships that will be budding. To use another gardening analogy, we now need to water the relationship seeds that you have planted through conversations, coffees, lunches and other types of meetings, and see which ones will flourish into great relationships. To do this, you need to gather all of the business cards and contact information from the people you met and send them follow up emails. This isn’t to say that you want to be besties with everyone, it’s just that you don’t know where these relationships can lead, and you don’t want to leave a sour taste in anyones mouth. You especially need to follow up if you said you would. This is also the time when you can take any of the interesting of fun facts you learned about them and put it in this nicely crafted follow up email.
The second step to the post-event is to make sure and follow up on what you said you were going to follow up on. If you said you would send them a resume of someone you think would be a great fit for their organization, send the resume. If you said that you would grab a coffee, set it up. Whatever task or action you said you would do, do it. You need to realize that your word and reputation are all you have. If you sully it by being forgetful, it will almost be impossible to get it back in good standing.
The next thing we need to do is follow up with the 3-5 folks that we initially reached out to. Even if you were not able to meet them, it is a good idea to get in front of them one last time, especially since you can reference something as relevant as the conference or event you all just attended together. Just as with the initial email you sent to start a connection, you are not trying to sell them anything. This isn’t about you, this is about them. If you make these follow-up emails about you, they feel a little cheated and instead of watering these seeds of relationship, you are plucking them out of the good fertile soil and throwing them in the trash.
Two final ideas. If you have the ability financially to go above and beyond, these last two creative ways could help take those relationships to the next level. The first idea only works if you were able to find out something personal about the other person, like a book they are wanting to purchase and read in the next few months, or their favorite restaurant or snack. Take that information and follow up with them by sending that favorite item, gift card, or experience in the mail. How can you serve the junk out of those relationships is the question you need to be asking yourself. This idea may be a little too far to fast, but that will be up for you to judge. The second idea is if you connected with a handful of people that are close enough to where you live, invite all of them out for a drink, dessert or dinner, your treat, and build those relationships further outside of work. I know these last ideas are taking it way beyond the initial contact, but they go a long way. I didn’t end up doing these with the event I recently went to, but I did send a small book to a coworker of one of the carriers we use because it was one that I had and that I believed they would get a lot out of.
The world is literally your oyster as it relates to this post-event time. I also know that all of these tips have been about building community. There are definitely other practical ones, but we can get into those another time. For now, here is the last thought I want to leave you with, above all, these conferences and events are about planting seeds of relationships. This is not necessarily the time to ask for the sale or even go deep. Plant the seed, water it, and see how it grows.
You know what problem I have realized? A lot of us suck at making the most of the conferences and events that we attend. I recently went to my first conference this March and I realized after the event that the little prep-work I did wasn’t enough. As you can see from the title, this is part 2 of what I learned and we are going to focus on the actual event itself. If you haven’t read part one, what prep-work we should be doing to set us up for success, you can check that out here.
At this point, after we have done the needed prep-work to be prepared to absolutely crush the event, we have to keep the momentum going. Now is not the time to chicken out and roll up into the fetal position. Be brave and don’t waste all that effort. (You can check out the video breakdown of this post here)
Lets start off with the biggest piece of advice that can make the whole plan crumble. Don’t follow the plan of only talking to the 3-5 key people so rigidly. If we do this, we will miss some amazing opportunities to connect with others that could make the conference an absolute success. I on the other hand did not do this. I walked in, ran into a guy that I hadn’t seen in years and caught up with him. After that, I started walking around trying to find the 3 people I had pegged that I really wanted to meet and get to know. I walked around and added quite a few steps to my Fitbit counter, and made myself look like a roving lunatic. We need to realize that most of the conferences we attend will be a few hundred to a few thousand people, so picking out three specific people may be near improbable. This is why we have the key folks we would like to meet, but it isn’t a plan that you need to follow exactly.
So now that you are ok with veering off your mission of only talking to 3-5 very specific people, lets realize one thing, EVERYONE at the conference is going to have some reservations about striking up conversations with strangers. As outgoing as they may be in their typical environments, conferences are not the norm for folks and that puts them a little on edge. This is why you have done all the prep-work, because it puts your nerves at ease and allows you to be the confident person to break the ice. Everyone loves confidence and it breaths life into conversations. Don’t be afraid to talk to others. Come prepared with a handful of questions that are actually interesting ones. Get beyond the ones about their job and what they do. Ask questions around; “Why they are at this conference?” “What would a win look like for them at the end of this event?” “What speaker are you most looking forward to seeing?” “Have you met anyone interesting?” These questions, and the million others we could all come up with, are just different enough to give you some ammo to start a conversation that could lead to a great relationship.
Knowing the event and having a plan for the schedule is also a huge help. I ended up sitting at a random table because my friend had some important calls to finish and I didn’t have the bright idea to save us seats for the lunch portion so we had to split up. These small details of sitting down early and saving seats are nice, unless you want to challenge yourself and be open to meeting other attendees. Since we had to split up, I ended up meeting a gentleman who lives about 15 minutes from where I work, knows one of my friends, AND is also a runner like me. Another piece of advice I learned from Jayson Gaignard is to look for the uncommon commonalities between you and the other individual. When you find out these uncommon commonalities like you both know the same person or enjoy running, you both can geek out over whatever topic that is and start to build a better foundation for a relationship. These uncommon commonalities also give you specific and interesting things to follow up on with that new contact.
Now that you have been willing to break the plan, break the ice with others, and meet new people, there is one last little tip I have for you. Make sure you have a couple of one liners ready to get you out of the conversations that are going nowhere. Not that you are going to burn this bridge, but you have no idea who this person really is or where this connection could lead. You also don’t want to be trapped in an awkward conversation for 30 minutes. Here are a few suggestions, “I don’t want to keep you from meeting other attendees, here is my card and lets catch up via email after the conference.” “Are you staying for the whole conference? Let’s try and meet up later.” “I’ve enjoyed meeting you, since I have to go meet someone else, here is my card so we can follow up later.”
All of this is a lot, I know, but the more prepared we are going into the conference, the more relaxed we feel and the better chance we have of forming relationships with others. Remember, we have no idea who that person will become and how that relationships could turn out to be a great asset for us in the future.
What are some of your tips that you apply while you are attending the conference?