Power Network Offline To Build Community Online

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There’s no question social networking tools make life easier for community managers. However, there comes a time when you need to take things offline and (dare I say) network. Event season is ramping up, and with SXSW on the horizon, you can’t waste opportunities to leave an impression. Lucky for you, this edition of Community Nuggets is all about power networking!

With endless tweets, pins, vines, and comments on *insert new network here* dominating your everyday life, community managers easily get trapped behind their screens and sucked into the echo chamber—that is, the interwebs.

Some of you may neglect an old-fashioned, yet highly effective form of outreach; in-person networking. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about elevator pitches and awkward business card exchanges here. We’re talking about making meaningful connections…much like you do when building your online communities.

Along with the video above, we’ll outline below how you can easily power network both online and offline. With SXSW coming up, what better opportunity to brush up your networking knowledge?

In case you haven’t already, meet Laura. Based on her personal experiences building community at HootSuite, Laura shares some her favorite tools, and secrets on how she uses real life events to build lasting relationships. Laura is an amazing connector, and her intel will help you build  communities around your brand.

Lets get started:

1) Pre-event blitz

It can be quite daunting at times with how many events are taking place, particularly in New York City, where Laura does the majority of her networking. It’s important to do your homework beforehand through a pre-event blitz. This ensures that you identify which soirées are relevant to you, thus worth attending.

Before signing up and heading out the door, do a quick hashtag search to check out what people are saying. HootSuite helps to filter those searches by geolocation (to eliminate all the spam and see who’s actually in your area) and Klout score to identify the influencers you should be connecting with (unfortunately, no filtering by Klouchebag scores yet).

2) Master the follow-up

Once you attend that a-list event, the next step is to master the art of the follow up. For starters, create a Twitter list and keep track of all the people you met before things gets too overwhelming.

This keeps the precious information handy – even if you misplace the cards themselves.

Tools like Evernote and CardMunch are extremely useful as they add context to your notes. With CardMunch (for iOS) when you upload a shot, the info is transcribed and helps you find your new friends easily so you can invite them to connect on LinkedIn.

3) Create email drafts

Once you’ve followed up with your contacts and connected on LinkedIn, it’s time to ramp up your email game. It’s really helpful to have a some premade email drafts at your disposal for different scenarios. The “canned responses” feature in Gmail Labs will help you respond to your new connections in a timely manner, while still being personal and relevant.

You can also use tools like Rapportive to get the scoop on all of your contact’s social presences without having to leave your inbox. Rapportive is an online networkers dream, letting you seamlessly deepen relationships by connecting, friending, and following with one click.These are easy but powerful gestures.

A new definition of networking

The term networking often gets a bad rap. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to schmooze… quite the contrary, in fact. You can network and still remain genuine. Be yourself, and use these tools to get the most of your real life events… Power network in style!

What works for you?

What is your secret to meeting new people at events? Any personal tricks or tools you use to power network at conferences?

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About the author

Connor is HootSuite's Community Manager of North America, West, regularly sharing HootSuite stories on the HootSuite Blog. When not building community, you'll find him playing and following just about every sport, high fiving strangers while running, and drinking too much coffee.


Yes! I have been dying to have something like the Canned Responses feature, I can't believe I didn't know about that before, I've been copying templates from TextEdit...

Huge thanks for the tip!