By Robyn Henderson, Networking To Win
Congratulations to those of you investing in your career and your firm’s future by attending this year’s ALPMA Summit on the Gold Coast. Allowing for travel time (unless you are a Gold Coast local) this event will cost you at least three days of non-billable hours and for legal practice managers often a backlog of tasks and catch up.
Let’s look at ways of maximising your network opportunities and your return on attendance at events like Summit.
- Remind yourself WHY you are going, WHAT you want to achieve and HOW you are going to do that
Let’s assume you want to identify 2-3 potential collaborators in your state/city whom you can form a potential alliance with for 2016. Ideally you will be able to share ideas and information with each other, work together on specific matters and potentially form collaborations on an as needs basis. Alternately your sole reason for attending is to attend one of the Masterclasses and the rest of the Summit is a bonus. One thing is for sure, if you are not clear on why you are attending, you probably won’t get a return on your investment or attendance.
- Remember to bring your business cards
If you are a first timer to the Summit, it may be useful for you to know that close to 300 delegates are currently registered - plus more than 150 Summit partner and exhibitor representatives. You have the potential to meet at least 25% of those attendees over the 3 day event. Please don’t open your business card box the day you are flying out and realise you have run out – check your business card stocks today.
- Re-read the program and highlight the sessions that you definitely don't want to miss
The Summit App show which sessions you have registered to attend. If there are conflicting break-out sessions that interest you, make a note of which ones and find a break-out buddy who can share their notes with you post event. If the session you missed sounds brilliant, then remember you can purchase the on-demand recording for that session (and most other Summit sessions) from the ALPMA On-Demand Learning Centre from late September.
- Go to breakfast in the trade exhibition
Even though it may be tempting to sleep in and skip breakfast, I strongly encourage you to enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the Summit trade exhibition at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, which is centrally located and a great venue. Whether you are staying at Jupiters, the Mantra, Sofitel or Peppers, you will only be a short walk, monorail or light rail from the venue. And as breakfast is included in your registration, it is another opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and check out new legal products and services and learn from your competitors.
- Wear your lanyard everywhere
Basically you want to make it easy for other delegates to identify you, know your name, where you are based and which company you are with. Remember your WHY, every best friend was once a perfect stranger.
- Act like the host not the guest
Whether you are a first timer at an ALPMA event or a regular, look out for the people who look a bit lost or are standing or sitting by themselves. Chances are the other managers from their firm may not be there or are delayed. Either way it’s a great opportunity for you to introduce yourself.
- Befriend the exhibitors
Every exhibitor at the ALPMA Summit is there because they have a product or service relevant to law firms or legal departments. Use the morning and afternoon tea breaks to check out their stands, throw your business card into their lucky stand prizes and network. Remember their networks may be quite diverse to yours and there will be heaps of cross networking opportunities – plus you get to see what new services and products available. Think beyond your firm – there may well be some exhibitors whose products may not interest you, but they are suitable for others in your networks. Collect the information and pass it on post Summit.
- Review the list of delegates
Use the Summit App to review the attendee list and directly message the people that you would like to meet - making it clear why you want to meet up with them at Summit. Energy follows thought – if you have no plan, you will meet random strangers, which is also fine. However, if you reach out to five people whom you would like to meet, your chances of meeting them are much more likely. As you exchange cards with delegates, tick their names off the master delegate list. If they don’t happen to have a business card with them, that’s fine - you can still reach them via the App.
- Take advantage of the free seating
Free seating means that you will not have an allocated table to sit at for the Summit sessions. This will enable you to really maximise your networking. A possible networking blind-spot for you and potentially the biggest mistake you could make at the Summit is to sit at the same table with the same people for 3 days – particularly if you already know them.
Aim to change seats and tables at least twice throughout the day. And when you meet someone whom you would like to reconnect with post Summit, gently bend the corner of their business card down so that their card will definitely stand out from the others when you get back to your office. Note: within the Asian community bending a card can be seen as disrespectful, so you might just be aware of that too.
- Aim to follow up with your new contacts within 72 hours of Summit
Today the easiest follow up is via a LinkedIn connection invitation. Though make sure that you go to the profile page first and press the connect button from their profile. This will enable you to write a personal message, reminding them that they met you at Summit.
- Do what you said you would do
Keep track of everything you promise to do for someone while at Summit - then actually do it when you get back to the office! My research has shown that less than 25% of people actually follow up after attending a Summit or conference, make sure you are in that 25%. Some information, idea exchanges or referrals may happen within weeks, others may take longer. However, if you stay connected to your ALPMA network, you will definitely increase your chances of generating referrals and revenue.
- Talk to strangers
- Act like the host not the guest
- Listen more than you speak.
The 2015 ALPMA Summit is being held from tomorrow to Friday (9 - 11 September) at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. If you can't attend the Summit in person, you can watch your chosen Summit presentations live and online via our livestream broadcast, generously supported by Law In Order.
You can purchase single session Summit Live passes for $99 (including GST) each or purchase the full Summit Live package for $550 (including GST) and set-up a mini-Summit in your boardroom. If you want to see particular sessions - but just aren't available at the time of the live-broadcast, then check out the Summit On-Demand options.
About our Guest Blogger
Networking strategist and ghost writer, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 25 books on networking and business development. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 130 times each year and has never advertised, all her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website.
Robyn also ghost writes books, articles, eBooks and e-zines for busy professionals who prefer to outsource their writing tasks in today’s multi-tasking marketplace.