Fall brings with it many great networking opportunities from tradeshows, breakfast meet ups to business award ceremonies. These events provide a much needed real life interaction in today’s digital world.

Events range from an hour to a day long, to maximize each event here are my top 5 tips that you can do prior to any event.

1) Prepare For A Meaningful Interaction

How many business cards you return with is not a sign of a successful event. Instead of reviewing a list of vendors, think about the value you can bring them (not what you can sell them!). Spend an hour researching the vendors on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. If you and your business can bring real value to another business, they will be more open to entering into a conversation with you. Remember “people run from things that chase them” in fact a good friend of mine Jon Malach at Native Ads told me the other week that he doesn’t even carry business cards anymore. He measures the impact he made at an event by reviewing how many new profile views he’s had on Linkedin. A true result of you providing value, interest and knowledge with no sales needed.

2) Get The Hash Out

All great events will start to market their event hashtag. Start interacting with the event’s hashtag a few weeks prior to the event. For example, the Tri-Cities Chamber Business Showcase is #TCCShowcase and the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference in 2017 is #CIMC2017.

It will allow you to connect with key people long before you meet in person. Also, don’t forget to review these hashtag streams after the event to continue that conversation.

3) Get Linkedin

As business owners, the best platform for connecting prior to an event is on Linkedin. But first, make sure you have an optimized profile. Ensure you have all your skills showcased and the photo is professional. Make your title and subtitle interesting “Owner” and “CEO” are kind of boring, think fun and professional.

I use my Linkedin profile every single day; it’s like having an online Rolodex.

4) Time to Learn

Conferences and trade shows are great places to learn new skills, tips and tricks for your business. Take time to focus in on the areas you’d like to learn more about. Book yourself into the right seminars and make time to chat with different vendors.

At Marwick, we encourage you to run a free website report here and bring it with you so we can go through what it means face to face, explaining it all as we go along.

5) Be Socially Visual

Photos and videos get 3x more traction on social media. So why not post videos and photos of your business getting ready for the event (using the event hashtag) and during the event. You’ll find more people will interact with your social media posts instantly increasing your reach.

And I don’t mean posting photos of your lunch. We’ve found that behind the scenes style photos work great, or fun short videos anything that shows the people behind your brand. Remember people love doing business with people (not companies).

So there you go – some handy tips for you this event season. I’ll be running a presentation at the Tri-Cities Business Showcase called “Google Search Marketing in 2017” if you want the latest advice, trends and actionable insights stop by the Education Lab on October 18 at 3:30.