Posted: October 9, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: CardMunch, community, Forum, LinkedIn, NAVUG, networking, Qrious, user group
It’s less than a week before we get to show up in Seattle for NAVUG Forum to connect with other professionals who use NAV in their jobs every day, just like we do! I’m making my “gettin’ ready to network list” and thought I’d share. These are my networking essentials:
1) Get that LinkedIn profile updated. Put a new picture up there so folks will know what you look like today. I like to go professional for me, but I don’t mind seeing a casual picture out there of other folks, so long as it’s current and helps me to recognize them. Almost anything is better than a blank photo spot. Make sure your basic info is updated, and you’ve got your top 10 skills and expertise out there. Another good reason to do this is, for the first time ever, the user group will be using Qrious, a phone app that will allow you to scan QR codes on attendee badges to get you to their designated contact information. That could be a company website, a blog, a Twitter or Linked in profile, or whatever they direct you to.
2) If you’re not a regular Twitter user, brush off that account and make sure you’re ready to use it. A lot of fun things can happen in the NAVUG Twitter-verse during Forum; it’s a great way to know what’s going on, where folks are at, and what the big WOWs of the day have been.
3) Updated business cards. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the old business cards are racing toward obsolescence, but they’ve got their place, and I still use them. They’re a quick way to get information into someone else’s hands and promote your company.
4) Spend some time reviewing contacts you’ve made in the past. I had an old dog-eared stack of business cards that graduated to a box because I couldn’t hold them all anymore. Once I got to that point, I got organized with CardMunch, an app that allows you to scan the card with your phone and then uses Mechanical Turk to transcribe the card into a contact record and locate the person’s LinkedIn profile, if they have one set up. You can even add notes to the record, just like writing on the back of a business card. I can flip through images of the actual cards, or the profiles I’ve gathered, when I’ve got a few extra minutes. Highly recommended.
5) Charging Cords! There’s no bigger bummer than to have your phone go dead in the middle of all the action.
6) A pack of your favorite breath mints. For real now, none of us are getting enough water, we’re eating stuff we don’t normally eat, probably not getting enough sleep, and we’re in close quarters all day. A mint never hurts, and it’s nice to be able to offer one to someone else.
7) The list of people you want to meet, even if you don’t know who they are yet. Every conference I make a list. Sometimes, I’ve got a person’s name on the list with a note “follow-up about the comment on ACH procedures with Lee”. Other times, I’ve got a note “find someone who knows about managing VAT with mixed standard and zero-rated items on consignment”. I’ll even throw in some “stop by the help desk and brainstorm that new idea on managing dimensions” or “informally poll finance users to see if they’d be interested in webinars on AP best practices”.
8) Adjust your attitude to be ready to interact. Lots of the folks who attend Forum are IT and Finance professionals. You’ve gotta admit, we don’t always have the best reputation for extroversion. Make it a part of your mindset to mentally get out from behind your computer (or your phone). Meal times and break times are prime time to get discussions going with a few people at a time. Take note of someone in a session who asked an interesting question, or who looked puzzled, or maybe who looked like they didn’t know anyone yet. Make eye contact, smile, and ask questions.
7) Comfy shoes. What do shoes have to do with networking? When I’m having my last conversation after talking with folks all day, I don’t want to be shifting around because my feet hurt and I’m sure not going to let sore feet get in the way of making it across the Expo hall one more time because there is one more person on my list I need to find.
8) Prepare to follow-up later. Don’t let all this prep go to waste! Even as you’re meeting new folks, remember that you’ll want to follow-up with people once you get back home. It’s always nice to hear from someone you met, and to establish a connection with someone who really understands what you do professionally. You never know now how you might be able to help them, or how they might be able to help you. The opportunity we all have to build an engaged community of NAV users who help each other exists because we all show up ready to connect, learn, and share.
See you in Seattle!