After returning home this week from a LinkedIn presentation at a really large out-of-town conference, I was reminded just how much time and money companies and people commit to these types of events.

What really struck me was how so few people have any system or procedure to make sure the time and effort pay off with measurable results.
To help you make sure you get improved results, here are some ways LinkedIn can help you before, during, and after your next conference.
Contact the event coordinator and request a copy of the attendee list. 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.
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.
When you are having conversations with those "right" people, be sure to ask them if they are a member of LinkedIn and ask them to join your LinkedIn network as a way to stay connected after the event.
Think of how much more productive this is than just grabbing their business card and adding it 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 full profile at all times.
I suggest you include in your Linked profile links to helpful resources. 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.
Review the attendee list and attempt to send LinkedIn connection requests to some of the "right" people that you didn't have luck finding in person at the conference. Do this only if you have established a connection strategy to add people to your network that you may not know but would like to know. Be sure to write a thoughtful, five-star connection invitation and avoid using LinkedIn's standard invitation.
Review the profiles of the people with whom you had productive conversations at the event. Use the profile information to find a way to take those contacts to the next level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Review their connections
  • See what groups they are in
  • Review the recommendations written by them and for them
  • Review Interests
  • Review Groups and Associations
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Follow their company page
  • Subscribe to their blog
Consider adding a note(s) in the Relationship section of their profile to remind yourself how you met and when and how you want to follow up with them. This will pay big dividends if used strategically.
Try these strategies, and hopefully the time, effort, and money you spend on attending a conference will never be wasted again.