On December 3, 2009 I attended the Boston MegaTweetUp at the Microsoft Cambridge NERD center. I went by myself and didn’t know anyone who was going to be there. I was really looking forward to it and excited to meet new people. However, I am a bit introverted and I have a hard time approaching people directly and thinking of something to say. I do think however that I had a very productive time. Here are some great tips that I thought about while I was at the MegaTweetUp.
Check Yourself before you Wreck Yourself
Put yourself in the right mindset for an event. I was psyched for this event and then drove into Boston. Driving in Boston is something I am terrified to do and something that always makes me a nervous wreck. I thought I was okay because I now had a GPS phone and I’d go right to the door of NERD with no problems at all. Nope, I ended up not being able to use the GPS and got lost, many times getting to the event. Anxiety set in and my mindset was poor. My great mood rushed by my own nervous anxiety. So, the first 1/2 hour I ended up a bit upset and pissed off, things bugged me.
How did I break this cycle of anxiety, nervousness and stress?
I stopped myself and said, “I’m here to meet people, make connections, contacts and friends. I’m not leaving until I accomplish this.” I would not let myself leave the event until I had met at least 10 new people. In an event of 400 people that should be easy, right? Well, for someone who needs a little push it makes it tough. So, I came up with the next tip.
You’ve Got The Touch!
I was wearing my Autobot Symbol Belt Buckle, why, because it is memorable, funny and also part of who I am. I’m a Transformers Fan and very knowledgeable about the Transformers. I’m not talking about the Michael Bay debacle but we’re talking back in 1984 10 year-old me cataloging all of my Transformers toys on an Appleworks Database program. Yeah, I’m a fan.
Well, I was wearing the belt buckle and I had my camera with me so I tweeted:
“BenSpark: At the #megatweetup know no one here. Anyone in same boat come say hi to the guy w the autobot belt buckle and Nikon camera.”
You’ve Got the Touch means that you are the only one who can affect change within yourself so put yourself out there. People want to meet you but they just don’t know it yet, so don’t hide the greatness inside you, put it out there.
Who is that Guy?
Be memorable, I wore the buckle because I like it and it is part of who I am, it was also a fun icebreaker. Walking around a few people called me over because I had that as an icebreaker and I had sent out the tweet. I made myself accessible and noticeable so people kinda wondered, “Who is that guy?” Be interesting and approachable.
Bring an Accessory or Prop.
I don’t mean be the guy with the parrot on his shoulder (very few people can pull off this look). I carry a camera everywhere I go and one thing I need to be much better about is taking pictures of people. There was a guy, GregPC, there that I didn’t meet or even see but he took photos of nearly everyone at the event. His set of 1000 faces is awesome. What is fantastic about this is that he connected with so many people in a direct way. Once he uploads his photos there are so many people who will seek him out on Flickr, a simple perfect idea in my opinion.
So, if you have a camera get out there and take photos. If you have a new gadget take it and use it as an icebreaker. That is if you don’t already have that outgoing personality.
Do that Thing That You Do
At the end of the MegaTweetUp there was a raffle and the organizer of the event Joselin Mane made sure that he got each person who won prizes to pose with him and the prize. I went and started shooting pictures of each of these interactions. I stood there for an hour taking photos of every single winner. After the raffle was over I approached Joselin and let him know I had the photos and that I’d post them to Flickr the next day. By just doing what I do I was able to make a connection with the organizer of the event, which brings me to the next tip.
Meet the Organizer
If you are at an event find the person who organized said event and meet them. Make sure that you tell them what you think of the event, thank them and make a connection with that person. I had a nice in with Joselin because of all the photos I took. That gave me a great way to say hello. We made a very nice connection and had a great conversation.
Talk to Everyone you can, but Listen More
Everyone at an event like this has something interesting about them. If you exchange business cards stop and take a look at the card, read it right then and there, pick out something to ask questions about. For instance, I met a woman who is a men’s fashion consultant. I found that out by reading her business card. So I asked her if I was a fashion travesty. She said no and that I was actually put together pretty well. The nice thing about that interaction was that I was able to identify and validate what she was all about (according to the business card) and show that I was interested in who she was. If you take a business card, glance at it and stuff it in your pocket then you’re doing yourself a disservice and also a disservice to the person who gave you the card. I know that someone has read my card when they mention any of my descriptions on the back especially Transformers Fan.
Here’s a tip. Take the card, look at it. Really Read it. Find something to ask a question about based on the card details. When you are done your conversation use the card to write some details about the interaction. This will help you imprint and remember that conversation which is great for the next tip.
Follow Up on those Conversations.
So many events I’ve been to I’ve collected business cards and did things all wrong. I have a stack of cards on my desk and I have no clue about the person I talked to because I didn’t follow my own tips. However, for this TweetUp I took the stack of cards and my little notes and then sent a follow up e-mail to each person. By following up you further cement those relationships.
Another Follow Up I did was post all my MegaTweetUp photos to flickr and I used the add person feature to identify people who were in the shots. I also sent a few tweets to the links and asked people to identify themselves in the photos. People love to see themselves in photos especially at events. One more tip would be to get into photos. I have no photos of me at all from the event. That is my one regret from the TweetUp.
Do you have TweetUp tips that I missed?
About the author: Andrew Bennett aka BenSpark is a husband, father, blogger, photographer, wired kayaker and an old school Transformers fan. He takes a photo every day and blogs about it on BenSpark.com. You can follow BenSpark on Twitter.