I go to a lot of conferences, often to speak, but sometimes just to hang out, soak up the ambience, and mostly meet new people and learn about their interests, goals and ideas. It’s heady stuff, and I’ve long since shared that it’s the “10pm at the bar” meetings, the “bumped into each other in the hallway” serendipity that really can make a conference a career-changing event.
Lots of times the people I meet are interesting but don’t immediately rock my world (and probably just as well!) so I end up coming home with yet another stack of business cards and the constant dilemma of people who are professionally active: what the heck do you do with those business cards once you get ’em?
My solution: Invite everyone to join me on LinkedIn.
I’m the first to admit that there are already too many social networks, too many wanna-be MySpace or Facebook or LinkedIn clones. They leave me exhausted, suffering from social network fatigue. Heck, the SF Chronicle profiled me after I wrote about the problem of too many social networks (see Social network sites becoming too much of a good thing, if it’s still online).
On the other hand, a million business cards cascading across my desk is marginally interesting but really not very helpful, and when I want to find that delightful woman I met from Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) or sharp manager from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), I hate digging through the stacks. I first thought “ah, I’ll buy a business card scanner”, but the ones I tried universally stunk big time.
So I have resorted to the simple and expedient solution of sending a nice “glad we met up” note to everyone I meet at a conference through LinkedIn. I hope that they’ll link to me so we can memorialize our connection, but even if not, at least I have what sales gurus call “a touch”, a chance to communicate with them and say that, quite genuinely, I enjoyed meeting them and hope we can work together in the future.
If you’ve met me and given me a card, you’ve probably received one too.
My invites to LinkedIn aren’t the stock – dull, ineffective – messages, however. Here’s what I just sent out to the people I met at the recent Blog Business Summit:
So what do you think? Would you jump over the moat and sign up for LInkedIn so we could capture our meeting and connection if you received a message like that?
And, while we’re at it, how do you deal with the stack of business cards you pick up at a conference, event, exhibition, workshop, etc etc etc?