How to make the most of events as an Introvert

You’ve decided to drag yourself to an event to prospect and network. Yeah, I know, the kind of draining no introvert looks forward to.

So, what’s your plan of action?

If you’re like most people, you’ll feel the need to meet as many people as you can while you’re there.

After all, building a massive network is key for business, right?

What you’ve experienced when you’ve networked at events:

  1. You’re on the go, go, go because you try making as many face-to-face connections as you can.
  2. If the event spans for multiple days, you try to go to after parties but are so drained you just want to sleep after a day worth of activities.
  3. You follow-up with the connections you made but only hear back from a handful of people.
  4. The people you hear back from have zero interest in talking business with you or they simply stop replying.

Ouch! All that time, effort, and drain for nothing. Worst of all, you probably spent hard earned money to go to the event.

This article will help you make the most of every event going forward. You’ll learn to minimize the drain and maximize your prospecting efforts.

The tips within this article can be applied to all events, no matter the size. Some tips will make a bigger difference according to the size of the event.

Tip #1 – Get picky about the events you attend

Sure, many will tell you to attend as many conferences, meetups, and events as you can. The more, the merrier.

As a fellow introvert, I advise against that.

Seriously, don’t do that!

You’ll burn yourself out. You’ll be unhappy with the results and dread events even more than you do today.

Instead, get picky about the events you attend.

Stop attending events that have a low return of investment. Click To Tweet

Make it a rule to only go to events that have a large number of prospects attending (this is relative to your business, industry, and event). Ignore all other events unless you’re there to learn.

If you’re unable to identify the number (or ratio) of prospects attending an event, then don’t waste your time by going to it.

Time is too precious to gamble with–especially when it comes to business. Invest your time into work that gives you a more probable return.

If you plan to drain yourself by attending an event, then make sure it’s worth the drain. Make it count!

Tip #2 – Research the event before committing to it

Learn as much as you can about the event before attending.

If you don’t research, you won’t be prepared, which means you won’t know how to squeeze the most out of an event.

Here are 3 things you should research for any event you’re considering attending:

  1. What kind of people are attending the event?
  2. What will the schedule be like?
  3. Where will your prospects be before, during, and after the event?

Let’s discuss some ways you can research each piece of information in more detail.

What kind of people are attending the event?

By researching an event’s audience, you’ll determine if the event is worth your time.

Your goal is to figure out if there’s a high number of prospects attending.

You can research this information in a few ways:

Event’s Marketing

Sometimes, the event’s marketing and copy will clue you in on the targeted audience. This can be as simple as looking at the sales page or event description.

The smaller the event, the more focused it will be, and easier for you to discern. You can expect to do more research for larger events since they sometimes target a wider and more varied type of audience.

Here’s a an example of the event’s description for an upcoming SPARK event hosted by the Freelancers Union:

The SPARK event is quite niched. It’s for freelancers who want to improve their public speaking skills in the Chicago Area (specified on EventBrite location).

It’s a perfect example of how a small event’s description copy is enough to identify who to expect at the event.

Let’s take a look at a bigger event. Here’s the description for ConvertKit’s upcoming conference:

The 3-day event are for online entrepreneurs who are bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers.

Let’s say your ideal client is a podcaster, then you should spend time researching the audience even more to find out how many podcasters will attend.

The last thing you want to do is spend $1,000+ on a conference that invited barely has any of your prospects attending (unless you’re there to learn and soak up some knowledge).

Hashtags

If the event is using a hashtag, then search for it on Google and social media.

Pick 10 random people (exclude event organizers and speakers) who’ve used the hashtag and check out their social media pages, job titles, and connections.

Identify if they fit your ideal persona or not. After researching 10 people, you should be able to say “I can expect x out of 10 people to be prospects at this event”.

It’s a minimally researched ratio but nevertheless researched.

Attendees list

Event management platforms such as Meetup have their attendees list accessible. Use the same process of picking a 10 random people and researching them to get an idea of a prospect ratio for the event.

Here’s an example of the attendee list from an upcoming meetup by the I Love Marketing Milwaukee meetup group:

Repeat events

If the event is a repeat event, then search the internet for articles or reviews about a recent event that took place. Find the event’s sales page, hashtags, and attendees list to research the audience.

What will the schedule be like?

Once you know the event is worth your time and plan to attend, figure out where you should spend your time during the event.

Events usually have an agenda available online or will email it to you after you’ve signed up.

For example, here’s the morning schedule for the ASJA Writers Conference:

Busy morning, right? The schedule for the entire 2 days of the conference is just as jam-packed.

Do you attend as many activities as you can?

Absolutely not!

Attending events as an introvert is all about time and energy trade-offs. Click To Tweet

Identifying where you’ll be most effective or receive the most will help you decide which activities to skip and which you should attend, which leads into the next piece of information to research.

Where will your prospects be before, during, and after the event?

Have you ever forced yourself to sit through a bad movie because you paid for a ticket at the movie theaters? (if it was for the sake of a date you were on, then good job!)

Or have you ever felt the need to finish reading an entire book before moving on to the next?

You feel like in order to justify an investment you’ve made (even if it’s a small one), you need to squeeze as much as you can from something, even when there’s no more to gain from it.

Deep down, you hate that feeling. It almost imprisons you. Many of us experience it.

You’ll feel the same way about events. You’ll feel the need to attend everything at an event, even if there’s nothing to gain from certain activities.

But you’ll really be spending, even wasting energy you could be saving up for your prospects.

The reality is that you don’t need to attend everything at an event. Click To Tweet

Personally, the bigger the event, the less activities I attend. I’ve even skipped entire days of an event because I discovered where my prospects would hang out before or after an event (usually a nearby coffee shop or hotel bar). Keep in mind I was there to prospect, not to learn.

I’ve learned that I do my best prospecting when people are in relaxed environments. Events make people run on a tight schedule, which throws me off at making real connections because I feel too rushed.

As you prospect, take note of the kind of environments you connect most effectively in.

If you’re at an event to learn (in addition to network), then attend the activities you want to learn from and don’t worry about networking during that time. Save it for other times during the event.

Okay, you get it. You should invest your time wisely.

But how do you get the inside scoop of where your prospects will be chilling before, during, and after an event?

You could hire a private investigator, become a top-notch creepy stalker… Or you could just ask them!

This leads me into my next tip.

Tip #3 – Connect with other attendees before the event

It’s a given: connecting with other attendees before an event is extremely beneficial.

Yet few people take the time to do it.

Sure, people share on social media, maybe comment on a post related to the event, but few connect directly with prospects beforehand.

Do you dread breaking the ice with new prospects?

If so, then learn to blow torch that freakin’ ice by connecting with prospects beforehand.

Connecting with prospects in a semi-passive way (via the interwebs), will break the ice before you meet your prospects face to face.

It’s game-changing for us introverts. The awkward introduction moments will be less and less in your life. Fist pump to that! ✊

How to connect?

First, you’ll need to create a list of prospects attending the event.

Use the tactics such as searching the attendees list and hashtags listed in tip #2.

Events typically provide a forum for attendees like a Facebook group, Slack, etc.). You can use discussions as a way to discover more prospects.

Connecting with prospects before an event

Once you’ve gathered a decent size list of prospects, it’s time to reach out and connect.

As the event date approaches, more people will sign up, which means you’ll see more conversations about the event online.

Send each prospect on your list an email or add them on social media and message them (whichever is more appropriate) a few days before the event.

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Don’t worry, it won’t be awkward. The event is enough common ground for them to be receptive to you. Plus, it’s top of mind for them.

Introduce yourself by telling them you’re attending the same event and ask if they’re attending any unofficial meetups.

If you find there are no unofficial meetups, then pick a convenient place near the event or main hotel and plan one yourself!

Invite your prospects by sending them a follow-up message with the time and location of the unofficial meetup.

If you’ve already been invited to an unofficial meetup and are allowed to invite others, then follow-up with other prospects and invite them to the meetup you plan to attend.

Using this approach breaks the ice quite smoothly. It won’t be awkward when you meet them.

Connecting with prospects prior to an event saves you from breaking the ice in person. Click To Tweet

Important Note: Make sure you have a clear online presence. Your prospects will research you after you’ve contacted them–especially if they’re interested in meeting at the conference. It’s your chance to position yourself in their mind.

Tip #4 – Connect with only a few people during the event

You’ve been told to meet as many people as you can at events, otherwise you’re not making the most out of them.

LIES!

Sure, you can play the extrovert but your prospecting powers will weaken with each interaction.

Instead, do something we introverts are way better at:

Introverts form deeper connections with just a few people. Click To Tweet

Deep connections build greater trust, which makes everything easier.

Trust helps people feel comfortable about reaching out to you when you’re needed. You’ll feel the same way about asking them for things too.

You only have a certain amount of energy in which you can be fully engaged. It’s not the same if you’re feeling drained.

Tip #2 prompted you to research things like the event’s schedule and where your prospects plan to be. Plan your time (and downtime) accordingly.

You might think that by focusing on a few, you’ll miss out on connecting with so many other prospects.

You’re right. It’s the trade-off you’ll make. You’ll miss out… at least in person.  But it’s worth it.

Don’t worry, you can make up for it by applying the next tip.

Tip #5 – Connect with more people after the event

Another opportunity people miss out on is networking after an event is over. And I’m not talking about hitting up after parties like we discussed in tip #3.

No, I’m talking about reaching out to people after an event is over.

Continue discovering prospects using the same tactics discussed in tip #2. Add them to your list of prospects to connect with.

For example, here’s the complete attendees list for a CreativeMornings MKE event:

I could research more people and add them to the list of prospects I want to connect with.

There are 3 types of prospects you can reach out to after an event is over:

  1. Prospects you reached out to before the event but couldn’t meet in-person.
  2. Prospects you met at the event.
  3. Prospects you researched after the event.

You can download some example scripts here.

Again, you can use the event as common ground for you to relate and connect (or follow-up) with people.

Reach out shortly (within days) after an event has finished. It will be fresh on your prospect’s mind. If the event was a great one, even better!

This tip justifies tip #4. You can make up for connecting with only a few during an event by connecting with many more after an event.

This window of opportunity is often missed. It can make a BIG difference in making the most out of prospecting at an event.

Put these event tips to the test

Attending events such as conferences, seminars, and meetups is just one of five ways you can network and gather leads.

Your energy is a precious thing that drains easily when you’re with people–especially a crowd moving through the day on a tight busy schedule.

As you’ve read, this doesn’t have to be a hindrance in your prospecting efforts.

Learn to be more strategic about how you prospect at events. Follow these tips to make the most out of every event going forward.

If you have tips of your own, share them in the comments!

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