A main reason people attend business events is for the "networking opportunities", however once they get there they stink at making meaningful connections.
Worse is when people do meet each other they rarely follow up. Meeting someone once does not make them part of your network.... it makes them someone you met once. There is a huge difference between having a brief chat at a convention and establishing a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.
In today's fast and impersonal culture a fast LinkedIn request is often sent and then folks mistakenly think they are in each other's network. A social media link is not the same as a friendship.
To create a real relationship you must share experiences and have ongoing conversations. If you want to go beyond just trading information you must "own the follow up".
Here are a few ideas:
1. Send a handwritten note. Yes, email is easier... but it is also just part of the ongoing noise. Many professionals get over 150 emails everyday. Since so few people send these types of notes they really do stand out.
2. Schedule lunch or another activity. The sooner you get together again the higher the odds you will establish a real friendship. While this only works if you live in the same area, too few people ever take this step. Humans are experiential beings, so when you share experiences you build bonds.
3. Have a "tele-coffee". My friend Neen James coined this phrase.... it is where you make coffee in your office, they make coffee in their office across the country (or across the world) and then you have a scheduled conversation via phone or Skype.
Don't delay in planning for the follow up after a conference. The more time that passes they less likely you will ever have any other contact with the people you meet at business events.
What do you do to cultivate the connections you make?
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