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4 Tips for High-Impact Networking at Conferences

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: February 05, 2013
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Thom Singer spoke at Destinations Showcase in Chicago last summer, but I missed his keynote because of booth duty. So isn’t it nice of DMAI to bring him back, this time in my own DC backyard… just for me?

I suppose the truth is that Thom Singer has written eight books and apparently the guy has a lot to say about the power of business relationships and networking. I was lucky enough to land a recording of his speech from last year and realized that the crux of what he was saying intends to help people invest in their relationships now – not tomorrow or in three months when we have time, because we never do – but now.

So in an effort to be true to Thom’s message, I want to provide you with the benefit of his wisdom by sharing four things to do before Destinations Showcase in March. I want to make sure you’re set for success by the time you hear him talk about the personal touch points that we still rely on when we do business, and how today’s technology lends itself to helping you maintain those touch points.

Create a system for nurturing your relationships.

As DMO sales professionals, you may already do this naturally, but take the time to really think about the kind of quality network you want to build – not a haphazard Rolodex of meaningless relationships, but rather one based on professionalism, trust, and value. How do you achieve this with the contacts that you make at Destinations Showcase? How do you upgrade the casual professional acquaintance to a trusted business partner over time? Is a quick email saying, “Nice meeting you!” enough anymore?

Be searchable online.

The connections you make at any conference, and not just Destinations Showcase, may or may not remember you based on the depth and scope of your conversation. So, when you do follow up with a contact, you can be sure that you will be searched. So complete your LinkedIn profile, update your bio on the DMO website, and make the right first online impression.

If you can’t help yourself, help others.

When at a conference, what to do when we meet meeting professionals whose needs we cannot service ourselves? We zone out and toss their business cards aside when we get home. I challenge you to help another destination. We’re all in this industry together, and sending a piece of business or connecting one planner to a fellow DMO salesperson isn’t going to hurt you. Besides, you never know when you’ll be looking to move to bigger and better opportunities and realize that the same connections can help you reach those opportunities later on.

Keep at it.

Most of all, Thom drives home the importance of staying the course. It takes years to truly solidify your relationships enough so that they in turn can one day sustain you. However, we cannot and should not get discouraged by this prospect. The most successful people in life are those who never let their network fend for itself, and you should do no differently.

Personally, I’m excited to hear Thom in person and see what more he has to add to his already rich perspective. He’ll be covering “integrated visibility” and how creating balance in the way we structure our various business disciplines – whether large or small – can make a real impact.

Sponsorhip opportunities at Destinations Showcase are still available. Please contact Karen Williams at kwilliams@destinationmarketing.org.