Networking 2.0: It's time to stop losing opportunities at events!

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I think it’s fair to say that with all of the technology we currently use on a daily basis, the fundamental act of sharing contact information with industry colleagues has fallen by the wayside. It is astounding how many people attend industry or corporate events and don’t even bring business cards with them. Common responses are: I left them in my hotel room, I ran out of business cards, I had them on my counter next to my bed and forgot to put them in my bag. How many times has this happened to you?

And it makes sense too. Carrying business cards with you is a hassle. With everything else we carry, the last thing you want is another bulging object in your pants pocket or your purse.

But here in lies the problem: people are losing extremely important connections and valuable opportunities for business, sales and career growth.

I recently attended an industry conference and was passionately networking with as many people as possible. I devised a creative system to initiate a conversation and followed up with a pitch that resonated with people from the very outset of our interaction. It was fun. And I learned a great deal about the people I spoke to. Everything from where they were from, what their hobbies were, and what really got them excited about their profession. I made it a point to learn about each person I spoke with in order to make a better connection.

The problem though was that at the end of the conversation, despite getting to know one another, when I asked for their business cards, only 24 out of roughly 200 people had them available. Now, maybe some of them just didn’t want to give me their card because they may not have liked me as much as I thought they did. But every answer was pretty much the same: I forgot them in my room, I left them at home, I ran out. Over and over I heard this response.

So instead, I emailed and texted myself information, which was painful. I sometimes would try to look up their name in the event mobile app and then somehow connect with them...which just didn’t work very well at all. And other times I would put their contact info in my phone or connect with them on LinkedIn. None of this worked well, and it even hurt the conversation.

By the time I physically went through my phone with these annoying functions the conversation was lost and both parties wanted to move on. A great conversation just ended on a bad note. It’s like watching a fantastic movie that ends with a sad ending. It just leaves you feeling empty.

Most importantly though, was the fact that these great opportunities are now scattered all over the place with no efficiency or accuracy. I will have to spend a good portion of the following days sifting through all of the various ways I collected information and building it all out into something somewhat coherent. But the truth is, I am going to lose information somewhere. It’s just inevitable.

This has to stop. The top two reasons people attend events are: 1. Education and 2. Networking. Companies are great at spending a lot of time, energy and money putting together great content, paying for great speakers, and trying to educate their attendees. But what do they do for networking? Happy Hour? 30 minute roundtable discussions? This is pathetic! How many attendees are going to go home thinking, wait, who did I meet at that event? Where were they from? What were they interested in?

The point is that organizations need to do a much better job giving their event attendees more efficient and digital ways to network. This will increase the value of the event to attendees by a large margin and make the whole process more engaging and most important, efficient.

Corporations spend roughly 25-30% of their marketing budget on events. This can translate into millions of dollars per year. And yet these essential opportunities to network with people to close more deals or introduce partnerships or get a new career opportunity are being lost. That means that millions of dollars per year are being wasted by every corporation that is hosting an event!

It’s time to stop losing opportunities. It’s time to bring networking into the digital era. It’s time to begin showing executives that corporate events are more than just a million dollar party. It’s time to get Loopd!