We all meet amazing people everyday. It does not matter if you are attending a convention, sitting on an airplane, or walking down the street.... there are interesting souls all around you.
But so what?
Meeting someone and having a short conversation does not make them part of your network. They are not even an acquaintance.... instead they are simply someone you have met. We must put in effort to establish the foundation for real connections.
There is a big difference between trading business cards and having an ongoing, long-term and mutually-beneficial relationship.
It is similar to dating. If you are married you most likely did not propose a committed life together the night you met your significant other. It took time to cultivate understanding and respect for each other. There was an intentional effort to get the relationship launched. Over time it grew into a permanent connection, but at first it is volatile and needed specific action steps. The same thing is true with the people you meet when attending a trade show, conference, convention, seminar or other business event.
You cannot assume that the other person will remember you once they get home if you are not memorable.
Out of sight is out of mind. If you do not take the steps to follow-up with people you will end up with nothing more than an old business card or a useless LinkedIn link where years later you have no clue who the other person might be or how you met.
You must "own the follow-up" if you want to create the benefits that come from knowing other people.
Not everyone you meet will become your friend. Strong connections will come with some, but you cannot force a friendship. But leaving it to chance is a guarantee that you will end up with nothing.
Following up means finding a legitimate reason to get yourself connected to the other person. At many of these events you will meet dozens of cool folks, but following up with all of them can be overwhelming... and thus you might do nothing.
After you get home from the event you should select three to five people who stood out in your mind. Write them a note, send them an email or place a call and tell them that they were one of the few who stood out from the crowd. It will make them feel good (how would you feel if someone called you and said the same thing? No, it is not creepy), and if you make them feel good, they will remember you a little longer.
Do not stalk people, if they are not responsive to you, move on to someone else. Not everyone will want to invest the time in you to establish and cultivate a connection. That is okay. Focus on the people who are interested in knowing you, too.
Have A Great Day.
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com