5 Clever Social Media Hacks for Networking at Conferences

by Emily Taylor, Digital Marketing Specialist at Tradable Bits
Can you believe it’s only a few more days until Social Media Camp 2015? We can’t wait to meet everyone and make the most of Canada’s largest social media conference.
Industry leaders from all over the world converge in Victoria this week to make new connections, learn about social media and share their expertise. With hundreds of attendees, conferences like Social Media Camp can feel a little overwhelming. Who should you talk to? What should you say? How do you take full advantage of three jam-packed days of learning, networking and having fun?
Luckily all of these answers are at your fingertips! Although face-to-face interactions are the most important part of conferences, your mobile phone is an essential resource for networking at large events. Social media is a great way to break the ice, join conversations and connect one-on-one with speakers.
Here are five clever ways to use social media to network at Social Media Camp, or any other conference with a live social stream.
1. Track & Use the Official Hashtag
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people inadvertently create their own event hashtag and miss out on the larger conversation. Check the conference website, read their most recent official tweets and make sure you’ve found the correct hashtag. (Hint: Social Media Camp’s is #SMCamp). Then make sure every tweet, Instagram photo and Facebook public post includes the hashtag! This not only exposes you to other event attendees and speakers, it also earns your social profiles major visibility on the live social stream on the conference website and in-venue screens.
2. Schedule Meetings Before the Event
In the days or weeks leading up to the conference, look for people on Twitter and Instagram who are using the official hashtag. Give them some social love by favouriting or liking their post, and then reply saying you’d like to meet them in person at the conference. Who knows – you may even be planning to attend the same workshop or meet up. Set up a time, but stay flexible. Make sure to keep your phone close by on the day-of in case either of you need to make any last minute plan adjustments.
3. Post a Come-Find-Me Selfie
Take a moment just before arriving at the conference to snap a professional, smiley photo of yourself and post it to Instagram with an invitation for anyone to come chat. (Important: Don’t forget to include the conference hashtag!) Other attendees will see your friendly face and exactly what you’re wearing on the live social stream, maximizing their chances of recognizing you in person. Sometimes our Twitter and LinkedIn profile pictures look quite different from reality… so posting a “come find me” selfie gives people a real-time, approachable, human view of who you are.
4. Scope Connections on the Stream
If you’re nervous about approaching new people, already knowing what they care about can really help. First, find one of the live social streams either on the Social Media Camp website, or on the large screens around the conference. Then, watch the posts until you find something that interests you and take note of the username that posted it. Now, just look them up on Twitter or Instagram and you’ve found a new friend! Send them a message or find them at the event and spark up a discussion about their post.
5. Give Speakers Some Social Love
Walking up to an industry expert and striking a conversation can be very intimidating – but it’s easy to break the ice on social media first! Take a photo of your favourite slide from their presentation or workshop, post it to Instagram and make sure to tag the speaker’s username. Then, go follow them and like a few of their posts. All of this social media love will attract their attention, and since you shared an insight about their presentation they’re very likely to share it. This not only provides the perfect starting point for an in-person conversation, but also earns you major visibility among their huge network of supporters!
Do you have any additional tips for networking with social media? Share them on the social stream using #SMCamp when you post to Twitter or Instagram!

Looking for more advice on making the most of conferences? Check out these 7 Weird Tips for Event Networking.
Want a live social stream for your conference? Contact Lenny at @lennygoh or lenny@tbits.me to learn more.
Keep an eye out for the Tradable Bits booth at Social Media Camp and come say hi to Darshan,Dmitry, Emily or Lenny!

Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in ThatSocialMediaGuy.com, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. Sean has been active on Social Media platforms, since joining LinkedIn in 2005. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, instructed at workshops, been a guest and keynote speaker at various conferences, has been working as the tech/start-up author for Steamfeed.com and has recently become the Editor of the Social Media Camp Blog.

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