You just watched an amazing presentation by a speaker and you want to discuss their presentation, or something else, in further detail with them. Based on my experiences as both a speaker and a fellow presentation attendee, here is the best way to effectively approach a conference speaker for networking:
- Approach the speaker by standing a few feet away but obviously waiting for them, wait patiently for them to acknowledge you.
- Shake their hand while introducing yourself
- Give them your short (1 minute) compelling reason you two should speak further at a later date. Examples:
- That was a great presentation! I have a couple of follow-up questions related to what you said about x. I’d like to schedule a time with you to discuss.
- I’m really interested in what you said about small business marketing and I’d like to discuss how I’ve used similar techniques successfully. I’d like to set-up a time with you to discuss.
- My company is doing something very similar to your organization and I think we could be great partners.
- Let them know you will be following-up via email to schedule a time to speak with them. Most speakers will hand you a business card at this time, but if they don’t and you think it’s going to be hard to find that information on your own, ask for one.
- Follow-up within a few days.
- Don’t monopolize the speaker’s time. Give your 1 minute compelling reason to speak to them further. No more. If you try to ask any in-depth questions you have then or try to have an in-depth discussion right then, you’ll risk leaving a bad impression with not only the speaker, but other conference attendees who would also like the opportunity to say something (I’ve been behind a few of you in line).
- Be ready with your compelling reason. Often, someone will approach a speaker without a cohesive thought on what they’d like to discuss. This takes up time and also can leave a bad impression.
- Don’t sell your product. This is what the follow-up call is for. See the example above on how to pre-sell your product or service by saying you’d make a great partnership.
What advice would you add? What works best for you?