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This week I gave a LinkedIn presentation at a huge conference on the West Coast, and it reminded me about how much time and money people and companies commit to these types of events.

It also struck me that very few people have a system or procedure to ensure that they'll see measurable results from their investment of time and money.

Here are some steps you can take before, during and after your next conference that will help you achieve the results you deserve.
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Before the event

Contact the event coordinator and request a list of who will be attending. Many times you can get the list—if you ask politely. Spend some time checking out the LinkedIn profiles of the people who look most interesting to you. In addition to conference attendees, don't forget to consider connecting with sponsors, presenters, and conference organizers. Many of these people are the movers and shakers in your industry.

Send a customized LinkedIn connection request, and, where appropriate, suggest you meet during the conference. People are much more likely to agree to a short meeting during a conference than when they're in their regular work environment.

You can use your mobile device to look at their profiles before you meet with them or you may want to print the profiles and take them along. You will then have lots of information at your fingertips to figure out how to start a conversation with the most interesting people—plus you'll have photos to help you pick them out of the crowd.

Join any relevant groups associated with the conference.

Post a status update about how excited you are to attend the conference, and mention some of the speakers you're looking forward to hearing from. Use the LinkedIn mention and hashtag features so your update gets seen by more people in your network.
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During the event

When you're having conversations with those "right" people, be sure to ask them if they use LinkedIn, and ask them to join your LinkedIn network as a way to stay connected after the event. This is much more productive than just grabbing business cards and adding people to your database after the event. Once you're connected on LinkedIn, you can see all of their connections, ask for introductions, stay in front of them with status updates, and review their profiles at all times.

I suggest you include media on your LinkedIn profile. Then, when you meet people at an event, you can suggest they go to your profile and look at or download materials that will help them. You'll be immediately adding value to a new relationship.

During the conference, use individual status updates and/or group conversations to share comments, pictures or videos about important information you've learned each day.

With the LinkedIn mobile app's Find Nearby feature, it's quick and easy to add to your network people you meet at the conference. This is a real winner and was designed by LinkedIn specifically for these types of events. Click here to learn more about this feature.
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After the event

Review the conference agenda and the list of participants, and send LinkedIn connection requests to any important people you weren't able to find and meet with at the conference. Do this only if your connection strategy includes adding people to your network that you may not know but would like to know. Rather than using LinkedIn's standard invitation, include a thoughtful message with your invitation.

Review the profiles of the people with whom you had productive conversations at the event. Follow up with a phone call or suggest a meeting to move the relationship forward. Consider attaching or adding a link to a piece of content you think will be helpful to them.

Publish an article with your most important conference takeaways, and share it with your network as a status update or a direct message to a select group of connections.

Try these strategies so that the time and money you spend to attend conferences will never be wasted again.
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