Use social media for better in-person connections

Picture of conference name badges to illustrate in-person networking

A couple of weeks ago, I attended what’s now become my must-attend professional event. It was the second annual, and second for me, Fraud Retreat, hosted by Jo Erven in Denver, Colorado.

Don’t call it a conference, because it’s not that. No large crowds, no exhibit tables. This is more of a family affair, as Jo calls it, and—if you know Jo—you quickly become part of the family.

This retreat offers great content for any anti-fraud professional, and I always enjoy spending time with other fraud fighters, because they challenge me. In sessions and in side conversations, I always learn something new.

But let’s not overlook the value of face-to-face networking. There’s no better way to create and maintain relationships. I’ve attended countless virtual conferences over the past few years, and none of them—no matter how hard the organizers try—equal the experience of making connections at live events.

It’s not easy, though. Walking up to and starting conversations with strangers, even with a common interest, can be daunting. It takes time to feel comfortable enough to go beyond the surface and get to know someone. There’s just so much you can accomplish in the limited time allotted for networking.

Thanks to social media, it’s getting easier. During the years that we couldn’t meet in person, we relied on LinkedIn and other social platforms. We cultivated our connections, created meaningful content, and learned the value of sharing. And when we were finally able to meet in person, we discovered something interesting: Getting to know people online makes it a lot easier to eventually connect in person.

Social media help us move past the initial phase of getting to know one another and what really matters to us. Then we meet in person, and we connect more quickly and deeply. But only if done right.

Unfortunately, some people waste the opportunity by making it all about themselves, or they don’t put in enough effort. Then they expect too much from the real-life networking events, usually blaming the event or the organizers.

So how do you take advantage of this amazing opportunity offered by LinkedIn and other social platforms when you’re offline? Here are my three top tips for making better in-person connections:

Remember the social part of social media – Engage with others’ content. Celebrate their wins and help them reach their goals. Schedule a phone call or zoom meeting with someone that you haven’t met in person. Help others get to know you through your posts.

Before a live event, connect with other attendees and speakers – Through your posts, private messages, and connection requests, let people know you’ll be there and look forward to seeing them in person. If there’s someone in particular that you want to meet, ask to schedule some time for coffee or a meal.

Stay in touch after the event – Don’t let those connections waste away until the next time. Send a message to let them know you were happy to meet, or suggest a time to reconnect by phone or Zoom. Post an update about the event and tag some of your connections. Share what you’ve learned through your updates.

It doesn’t take much time or effort to pave the way for better in-person connections. If you’d like to learn more tips and strategies for successfully engaging with social media, check out my online course, Attracting Clients and Building Credibility Through Social Media – Without Making it Your Full-Time Job.


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