Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Using Twitter to get the most out of Conference Networking

Now that we are in the age of Blackberries and web 2.0, is it any wonder that the way we approach networking is evolving?

Most of us manage our contacts using a service like LinkedIn or Xing. This can help us stay in touch, find new and interesting people and discuss all manner of business.

Some people are starting to realise the benefits of using Twitter (a young and rapidly growing networking site) to give industry events an extra depth. The service has, until recently been the play ground of geeks and techies and is only just starting to show its immense power for Business. Here are just a few benefits of “tweeting” at a conference.
Discovery of new people and organisations:

This week the European Wind Energy Conference is taking place in Marseille. Twitter’s immediacy means that you can find out what’s happening right now. The image below is taken from a twitter search to show who is talking about the event.

You can use twitter search in the early stages of an event to find out who else is there so you can start following them and receiving their updates.

Maximise Learning:

It isn’t possible to attend every single session at a conference or visit every single stand. Attendees often twitter live from lecture and panel sessions as they are happening to let their network know the juiciest insights and the biggest revelations they are being privy to.

Of course some conferences are tweeted more extensively, and using more sophisticated techniques, than others. It all depends on how many attendees are using the service. I was at the Social Networking World Forum in London last week and found the event to be very thoroughly covered by the ‘twittersphere’.

I have highlighted my use of a Hashtag in the above tweet. Hashtags are an informal way of making it easier to search for the tweets you want to find. If everyone at the event put #snwf somewhere in their tweets, I would only have to search for those four letters in order to see everything that was happening.

Never feel left out again:

It’s not always possible to attend every conference in your niche. Now you can “listen” to what’s happening by simply running a twitter search even if you are unable to attend. It doesn’t stop there, sometimes people are nice enough to tweet links to photos so that you can see what’s happening. The twitpic service makes this really easy.

Keep listening and get more value after the event:

Sometimes it would be nice to know what everyone else thought of the conference in more than 140 characters! After conferences, a lot of people write blog posts and articles about their experiences and what they learned. These posts and articles are often linked to with tweets in the days following a conference, so don’t stop listening just because the event is over.

How to get in on the action:
  • Set up a twitter account for free 
  • Use the search function to find some people with similar interests to follow. You can follow anyone you find interesting on twitter, it’s all about discovery
  • If you are going to be attending an event make sure you tweet about it and search for others that might be doing the same. 
The next big event that EcoSearch will be attending is All-Energy ’09 in Aberdeen on 20th & 21st May. The hashtag for this event should be #AE09.

You can learn more about Twitter on Wikipedia.

By Katharine Robinson,
Research Associate
Twitter: @EcoSearch

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