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Live Networking: tips for being human, harnessing the power of organic vs forced.

by Nick Salvatoriello on


Well, it's networking season (again).  With autumn finally here, people going back to school, back to work from vacation, things are really ramping up (check out #INBOUND if you're not coming already).  And if you're in marketing / business development, it's time to crank back up your live networking game.  This was a topic of some recent interviews I've done and I thought I'd share some of my notes here for you all:

Your pal Nick Sal connecting with some Agency Partners at HubSpot's annual Partner Day event in May 2015.

9 tips for Inbound Marketers to make the most of their networking opportunities at industry events this fall:

  • Set an intention.  Know what you're searching the universe for so you can see the event through those eyes (cheesy, but true).
  • Be curious.  Be open to the best in people.  Be open and expect to make the most of the event.  Keep flowing until you make (non-creepy) eye contact from folks and look for a decent opportunity to approach and say hello with a smile.
  • Obviously you need to have a positioning statement.  An answer to "What do you do?  What brings you here?"  After that's been shared, I like to then ask, "How did you get into [whatever you're doing]?  Do you like it?"  I don't care who you're talking to, that's an opener.
  • Lock in and engage if it's a great conversation.  If they can handle it, be boisterous.  Stir things up in your corner.  People will notice and want to join, or they'll want you to join them in their boring circle later.  

The classic live networking pose.  Open, inviting half-circle. This will allow other participants to flow in and out of the conversation naturally (including yourself).

  • If it's not a great conversation, you can always be polite and say, "Well, we better keep things moving, eh?" and move on.  
  • Realize that everybody else is there for the same thing.  That's the first thing you have in common with everybody you meet.  Search for things you have in common through polite, curious questioning, and get them to expand on THEIR SIDE of that commonality.
  • If the people you are with seem clean cut and fairly normal, take pictures with these people and tweet it out using the event hashtag.  It's not weird anymore.
  • Eventually (hopefully) you're going to cross paths with some folks who you might be wanting to follow up with after the event.  DON'T PITCH at the event.  Be inboundy.  Just learn about them and what they are after in life.  Be vulnerable and tell them a few things about yourself and build a little trust.  Then have a CTA ready so you can offer this person something helpful.  Awareness stage content-type stuff.  Guides, tools, blogs and the like.  No pitching. 
  • A vanity URL costs you a few bucks and is easy to remember at a live event (and maybe is even intriguing?)  "Hit me up and check out this webinar I did - it's at"  Make that redirect to your landing page or whatever next step engagement point you planned to send people to who were what you were looking for in the universe.


A view from behind the podium at INBOUND's annual Training Day

3 Steps to building your personal brand as you network at #INBOUND15 (and other live industry events)

I was asked the following question by a power-user this week:

"I am coming to INBOUND and am very aware of my personal brand. What are some ways that I can impact my brand in a positive way that don't come off cheesy or annoying?"  

This is a very important question for networking, so I thought I'd leave you with a few points I sent back to them.  Maybe they can help you make the most of your INBOUND experience (and beyond):

  1. Have a position on common topics that you know are going to come up at the event (SEO, content saturation, sales and marketing alignment).  What's your motto for each item?  Where do you stand?  Can you help others understand?
  2. Introduce people you find interesting to other people you met whom you think they will find interesting (based on their background, what they're discussing).  They'll be greatful, you'll build community, and people will realize you're a connector - a bridge.  That's a strong brand.) 
  3. Have a CTA of some kind to offer live to your contacts.  Something you're looking to draw people back to.  It should be crafted as something at "converts."  This CTA can be written on a business card or something that is easy to say and remember like a vanity url (see my last bullet points above).  See this example created specifically for networking at INBOUND15 by HubSpot Agency Partner, Nextiny Marketing.  If you don't have a CTA that is a good fit, calling people to follow your social presence/subscribe to your blog is a great start.


What do you think of these networking/personal branding tips?  Your turn to share:

What do you think about some of the tips I suggested above?  

Did you try any at a live event?  Do you agree/disagree with their effectiveness?  

What are some tips you might have to throw in here?  

Please share in the comments below.  Thank you!

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