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4 minute read

Modernizing Your Networking Technology

Yes, you can just register and show up for a conference. And I bet you’ll have a great time. After 2+ years alone, I find myself clamoring to any opportunity for human contact. It turns out humans are pretty awesome after all. Who knew? 


But what if you’re ready to start spreading your wings a bit more? Maybe you’re ready for a promotion, whether or not your current company is. Or, maybe you unexpectedly find yourself in pursuit of your next role. In either case the time to start prepping is NOW!


If you've been parked on the couch since 2019, you should know that the world has changed since you last networked. No, we're not using ChatGPT, but there is much more tech in play than there was a few years ago. Here's how to improve your conference experience by modernizing your use of technology.


Google Yourself

This is a short one. If you haven’t typed your name, and its variations, into the Googler lately, do it now. More than likely, your LinkedIn bio will be the top result. But, if it’s something less than desirable, it’s better to know about it before your new contacts do.


In fact, set up a Google Alert for your name so you always know when new info about you is posted to the internet. Avro Creative has some great tips here. 


Review Your Public Profiles

On a related note, check all your social media profiles. There’s nothing wrong with setting some of your profiles to Private. Every platform has a way to limit who is able to see your posts, photos, and details. Today, we’re all being encouraged to be our more authentic selves but you have to decide what your own comfort level is. If you have content you don’t want future employers, colleagues, and collaborators on any profile, no need to delete it. Just adjust the settings. Here’s a snappy article from Popular Science that covers some basics, but you can also check the Help section of each platform for more detailed settings.


Like sharing some stuff on social, but not ready to fully merge your personal and professional lives? Create a second account! You still want to be found, so try to use your name and perhaps some indication of your profession or specialty. For instance, maybe janedoe_legal is your professional Instagram account handle. Quick tip – legal is active on Twitter, surprisingly active on Instagram, but not Facebook. TikTok is Alex Su's domain. I still don’t get it.


Set a Destination 

Much like any good strategic plan, decide where you want to send people to learn more about you. For many people, LinkedIn continues to be the best place to spotlight professional accomplishments and expertise. But, depending on your personal preferences, maybe it’s your personal website where you feature past work. Want the best of all worlds? Take a look at Linktree, which I dig into below. 


Whatever the destination, you want to ensure everything you print, share, talk about, or otherwise share directs people to that place. This ensures people see the content you intend them to see, instead of googling you and finding the photos from your grandma's 90th birthday party. I’m sure it was a great party, but you always want to control the message you put into the world.


Get a QR Code

We all got super familiar with QR Code menus during the pandemic, and now you need your own. The good news? It’s incredibly easy and you can use it throughout the year whenever you want people to connect with you (including on your business cards and resume!).


The simplest and easiest personal QR Code that you already have is provided by LinkedIn. In the app, click in the Search bar at the top and you’ll see a little icon show up. Click on that to see your personal QR Code. You can find detailed instructions by device here.


The great thing about the LinkedIn QR Code? You can open it, have someone scan it with their phone, and be connected before you part ways. If you’ve decided to send all the people you meet to your LinkedIn profile (‘set your destination’), this is your best, simplest path.


Have more than one thing you want to promote? Consider setting up afree Linktree account to consolidate all your important information into one place for your new contacts. Your Linktree always stays the same, but you can easily update the content with a moment’s notice if you have something new to share. And, if you enter your contact details, Linktree will automatically create a contact card in a standard VCF format that anyone can download directly to their phone or computer. How’s that for efficiency?


Never seen or used Linktree? Take a look at mine.


Business Cards

Truly the most controversial among my networking advice, I still suggest business cards if you are actively trying to promote anything – yourself, your business, your friend’s petting zoo. It’s the most efficient physical “leave behind” that you can produce, with costs at suppliers like VistaPrint and Moo running as low at $21 for 50 cards. How many do you need? I never bring more than 100, so the minimum order will suffice for most uses.


What do you do with them? Hand them out to everyone you meet! If you’re in a particularly high traffic area, you might see one of my business cards laying out on a random table. It’s not because someone has carelessly discarded my card (though fine if they did, as long as they have my info now). Instead, I will drop a card here or there just to catch someone’s eye. You never know who needs something to read while they’re scarfing down a cold sandwich between sessions! 


And don’t forget to include your personal QR Code on your business card. And your resume. And everywhere else!!! here's an example of how that plays out in real life.


Business card with QR Code
Make sure to use your personal QR Code on your business cards and everywhere else!


You Got This!

There are only about 18 people on earth who don't get nervous at the idea of meeting random humans and trying to appear interesting to them. Give yourself some grace. We're all nervous. If you need a topic to talk about, tell them about all your new tech! You'd be surprised how many people appreciate the tips. Just ask Marla Mohr, Kalina Leopold, and Sameena Sadfar, all of whom shared their tips with me!


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