Guest blog piece today by my colleague and friend Janet Falk (linkedin.com/in/janetlfalk), who describes a very smart use of LinkedIn to “warm” selected individuals in a group. Thanks, Janet!
If walking into an industry networking event with people you’ve never met before gives you pause, here’s how to use LinkedIn to build a Welcoming Committee that will maximize your networking success.
- After you pre-register for the event, visit the organization’s website. Write a list of the officers, board members and committee chairs, including their email addresses. If the email is not provided, look up their LinkedIn profile and check the Contact Info tab under the photograph.
Send each person you’ve identified an introductory email with the subject line: “Will you attend the EVENT on DATE?” Briefly describe yourself and your work with a related business, along these lines:
Your name came to my attention as an officer/committee chair of the Organization.
I am a ____ professional who specializes in helping ____.
Having worked with Relevant Company on various projects in Specific Mutual Area of Interest, I wish to learn more about the Organization and how, if I become a member, I might get involved in your activities.
Perhaps we can chat at the Event, where I’m excited to meet you and your colleagues.
When you reach out to the leaders of the organization, they will be delighted to hear from you as a potential member. Probably half of them will email you back with a big welcome. Why? Every organization needs to bring in new members, especially people who offer specialized expertise their current members may require.
- Respond warmly to their replies. In your response, indicate that you will wear a distinctive article of clothing to make it easy for you both to find each other in a crowded room. Perhaps a woman wears a red jacket and a man has a green tie. Having exchanged emails with you, the contact is now on your Welcoming Committee and is prepared to seek you out.
- On the day of the event, review the LinkedIn profiles of all the people you identified. Make note of your areas of mutual interest, to ensure a more meaningful discussion. At the event, keep the list of their names handy; it is your game plan.
- When you arrive, ask the person at the registration desk for two of the people on your list, in case they are nearby. Alternatively, be on the look-out for the contacts you’ve emailed. When speaking with them, start with the industry or professional organization itself. Ask why they became a member, what they most enjoy about it and what was their most recent success. Let them brag, so to speak. Only discuss yourself and your expertise in passing. As the conversation flows freely, and you collect their business cards, take out your list and ask if the others are present, so you may meet them, too.
This introduction will burnish the reputation of your new contact in the other officer’s eyes, for she will be seen bringing new members into the group. Keep track of the names on your list and endeavor to meet as many of the officers and committee chairs as possible.
- After the event, send a follow-up email and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Note what a pleasure it was to connect in person and how much you enjoyed learning about the organization. Mention that you look forward to seeing them at future events. If you have become a member, tell them they played a significant role in that decision. You can even send an email to re-connect with anyone on the list whom you did not meet, because they were busy talking with others or did not attend.
In building a Welcoming Committee, you become the focus of attention of the organization’s movers and shakers. You demonstrate that your interests align with those of its leaders. You share an agenda of the benefits of membership and its future activities. Thanks to that common ground,you enhance your networking success.