Download: MP3 (69.5 MB)


I say this with the utmost sincerity as an introvert: conferences are one of the best values you’ll ever get.

I’ve had some of the best conversations and experiences in my life over meals, coffee, or park benches at conferences.

If you’re going to a conference in the near future (or even thinking about it), this episode will give you the rundown on preparing for your next conference, how to engage with people, what to bring, and how to stand out.

You’ll learn what conferences are NOT for, why a cheap business card is worse than no business card, and why you shouldn’t worry about acceptance from your heroes—even if you get to meet them.

Show Notes
  • 02:24 Sean: Today we’re talking about how to get the most out of conferences. Someone asked the question, “What is a conference?” and I want to make sure I clear that up for people first.
  • 02:31 Ben: Isn’t that where people sit around a desk with a weird looking space phone in the middle, the audio quality sucks, and everyone’s trying to talk at the same time?
  • 02:43 Sean: When I’m talking about conferences, I’m talking about going to an event where people from all over attend and there are usually speakers, panels, and workshops. Sometimes there are before and/or after events outside of the conference. There are a lot of different kind of conferences out there. Here in Texas, we have SXSW in Austin, where I did a lettering event and attended a Dribbble meetup last weekend.
  • 03:29 When I think of conferences though, SXSW isn’t the typical type of conference I think of. It’s a conference but I think a lot of people don’t actually attend, which gives it a weird culture. People aren’t actually going to SXSW, they’re just going to Austin and hanging around because everyone’s in town. It seems like more and more people aren’t paying for a badge, they’re “nonferencing” or “unconferencing.”

Creative South

  • 04:34 There’s a conference coming up called Creative South in Columbus, Georgia, in April. I’ve really enjoyed this conference and this is the third time I’m going. I’ll actually be speaking this year. I really love this conference because it’s very down-to-earth. There’s going to be speakers, workshops, and panels that are all awesome. The people are so down-to-earth and the most friendly people you’ll ever meet. People are coming from all over and we’ve got 14 Community members that will be attending, which I’m incredibly excited about. That’s including everyone that’s doing stuff with seanwes like Justin Michael, Cory Miller, Aaron Dowd, my brother, Cory, and my wife, Laci, along with myself.
  • 05:51 Also, I attended a huge SXSW Dribbble meetup this weekend (Related: tv055 Why You Should Be Networking Even if You’re an Introvert). I think there was 500 people there last year because it isn’t just the Austin Dribbble meetup, it was for everyone who happens to be in town for SXSW. Another creative conference I like is Circles Conference, in the Ft. Worth/Dallas, Texas, area. Do you have any preconceived ideas of what conferences are, or that someone would have, that we can clear up?
  • 07:15 Ben: That’s difficult for me to answer because I’ve been to musical and church culture conferences before, having had a history in church leadership. Thinking back to what I was expecting vs. what I experienced, the thing I always downplayed in my mind was the opportunity to connect with other people and because of that, I feel like I wasn’t as intentional about seeking those opportunities out.
  • 08:02 After the first few conferences, I started to recognize that. Connecting with other people happens naturally anyway, but depending on the size of the conference you can get lost in the shuffle. Most conferences, if they’re doing it right, will provide opportunities for people to connect. Once I started seeing that for what it was, I got to make more connections and get in touch with people from all different parts of the country that I still have connections with now.
  • 08:49 I went to one conference that was for musical artists, where they had a lot of indie musicians attending and they also had some bigger name artists speaking and doing keynotes. One misconception I had was that I could give a demo to one of these big name artists. The reality was I didn’t get within 10 feet of sniffing him.

What a Conference Is Not For

  • 09:49 Sean: A lot of people think conferences are just networking events, where you go throw business cards at people. I want to put that misconception to rest.

People don’t go to conferences to be promoted to, they go to make connections.

  • 10:16 They want to have real conversations with real people and they want to deepen those kinds of relationships. Ideally, they’re not going just to market themselves. Hopefully they’re going to establish some relationships and marketing is a byproduct of that. People become aware of you because you’re there, in person. The guy that’s really pushy and puts his card in your hand leaves a bad impression.
  • 10:53 Ben: On one hand, you’ve got the guy who’s handing out his cards and on his card is his name, what he does, and his contact information. Look at that card—maybe it’s even a nice card—but it’s small. That’s how much of yourself you’re giving to someone. That’s how much of yourself they’re taking away with them. You can put a lot of those into peoples’ hands and spread them all over the place but the depth of their connection with you is as big as that businesses card. On the other hand, if you have personal conversations with people and give of yourself, what people are left with is significant. You’re not going to be able to connect with as many people that way but the difference is in the depth of the connection.

What a Conference Is For

  • 12:14 Sean: Conferences are for deepening relationships. That might look like meeting someone you’ve never met before and making a good connection there. You can also deepen the relationships you have with people online that you’re now able to meet in person. For instance, I’ve been working with Justin Michael for the better part of the last year but I haven’t met him in person and he’s going to be at Creative South. I get to have in-person conversations with him and get to know him better! It’s turning those Twitter friends into close buddies, that’s where the real relationships happen. If you look online, you might think, “Those two guys keep tweeting at each other. It seems like they really know each other.” It’s probably because they met-up for a meal while at the same conference and that’s why they have something that seems different than someone randomly tweeting at someone else.

Make Time for Each Person

  • 13:45 Don’t just try to hand out your business card to as many people as possible, have an experience with each person. People notice when you’re ready to move on to the next person. It’s obvious when you’re just trying to get some face-time in and leave an impression, then move on. You’re not really about that person when you do that.

Engage with one person until they’re done talking.

  • 14:14 It’s a unique opportunity for you to listen to the other person, especially if it’s someone that you met online. If you met before—maybe they follow your work online or read your blog—you don’t need to talk about yourself. Listen to them and let them talk about themselves. Let them talk about what they do and what they’re passionate about. Get enthusiastic about that! Answer their questions if they ask you but don’t start off by taking charge and pushing your own stuff.
  • 15:11 Ben: I like that idea because there’s a misconception that if you get your name to as many people as possible, it will equal meaningful results. If you’re trying to build a following it seems like that would bring you followers but you’ve always got to go with the depth of the relationship over the quantity of relationships. If you go in deep with one person and if they have such a meaningful relationship with you that it causes them to tell others about it, that’s far more powerful than the impression given from a business card.
  • 15:58 Sean: That’s huge because you have no idea who they know. Even if they don’t already know someone, you don’t know who they’re going to bump into next. What kind of experience are they going to say they had with you? What if they were about to say something to you that changed everything? What if they happened to know someone that ended up being your next client or partner? You don’t know the next thing that’s going to come out of their mouth and you don’t know the next person they’ll meet so you want to really invest in each person, individually. I can’t emphasize enough engaging with someone until they’re done talking. It leaves such a different impression when you do that.

When you’re the one to leave a conversation first, they will remember how the conversation ended.

  • 16:48 They’ll remember, “I talked with this cool guy and we were having a great discussion until he needed to go to dinner.” Whatever the reason for exiting is—needing to talk to someone else, taking a phone call, or catching a flight—they remember the exit. If they’re the ones to exhaust the conversation, they’ll remember the experience and not the exit.
  • 17:18 Ben: You’ve got to be careful because you can end a conversation without purposefully ending it. Don’t fiddle with your keys, fidget, look over their shoulder, or look at your phone. Just give them your full attention.

Don’t Worry About Acceptance From Your Heroes

  • 17:47 Sean: I used to worry about getting validation from the people I look up to—the people I follow online and was able to meet in person at a conference. I was very concerned with having them like me and appreciate my work. I thought, “Now that we’ve shook hands, maybe he’ll follow me back.” I thought that would validate me, my existence, and what I was creating. In my mind, that would mean it’s worthwhile. Don’t make your conference experience about getting validation from your heroes because that’s not what it’s about. Your heroes are there to inspire you and light a fire under you.
  • 18:37 They’re there to get you going and it doesn’t matter if they ever know about you, endorse you, or like you. They gave you something you needed at the right time. I would encourage you to now pay that forward because no matter what level you’re at, you’re an inspiration to someone. You need to be thinking about your influence on other people. When you’re coming to a conference, even if you feel like you’re a nobody, you have to realize there are people who aren’t as far into this thing as you are. Believe it or not! If you’ve only been doing this thing for a few months, there’s people who are still thinking about trying to do this thing and they may be looking to you.

If you’re caught up in getting validation from your heroes, you could be missing out on an opportunity to inspire someone who looks up to you.

  • 19:35 Ben: An unspoken inspiration from your heroes is the fact that they, once upon a time, were in your position with their own heroes. If you look across the landscape of “heroes,” you can often see that they’re connecting and have relationships with other people who are more or less at the same level they are. Most of those connections don’t exist just because they have the same level of authority in their pursuit. A lot of times those connections were formed when they were working at it in the very beginning. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to find the people around you who are on the same level and are going to be with you on your journey, not just ahead of or behind, but with you.
  • 20:37 Sean: You don’t think about that because those people are where you are and you don’t want to be where you are, you want to be where that one guy is at the next level. You’re going to be that guy to people behind you in just a little while and so are the other people next to you. You should be building those relationships now.
  • 20:58 Ben: Those people next to you are integral to helping you grow to the next level. They’re the ones who can give you feedback, challenge you, keep you sharp, and encourage you. They’ll tell you when you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing or they can demonstrate an innovation you should be using. Because they’re on your level, you have an opportunity to engage with them in a way you can’t with people who are ahead of you or behind you.

Preparing for a Conference

  • 21:37 Sean: If you’re getting ready for a conference, maybe it’s coming up and you’ve registered for it already, I want to give you some things to prepare and anticipate before you go into it.
  • Get Your Story Ready
  • 21:58 Get your story ready because everyone is going to ask, “What do you do? What are you about?” and you’ll answer that a hundred times over the course of a few days. You really want to nail this down because you’ll get asked a lot and you can’t do a 20 minute story every single time (Related: tv009 How to Tell People What You Do in 90 Seconds). I was able to condense down what I’m about by telling one kind soul my whole 20-minute long story and having him tell it back to me. Once he told it back to me, I had clarity because he didn’t have all the emotional ties to everything I do.
  • 22:41 I asked him, “If I left and someone else came up to you and asked, ‘What is that Sean guy about?’ what would you tell them?” He said, “It sounds like you had success with client work, products, and teaching and now you want to help others do the same.” In a nutshell, that was what I had told him in 20 minutes! It was so helpful and I got so much clarity out of that, I was able to take it and flesh it out a little bit. I gave it a little more of my personality.
  • 23:19 Ben: It’s like when I make chicken noodle soup, I put a whole chicken in a pot with water. When it cooks, all of the juices from the chicken drain into the water and it becomes chicken broth. I strain everything through a colander to separate the chicken from the broth. In a sense, that guy was serving as a colander. You gave him everything and he filtered out what you could tell people.
  • 24:30 Sean: There’s another detail in there that also resonates with me. As you were telling this, I could imagine that delicious chicken broth. I was getting attached to the chicken broth. That’s how it is with your story—you’re attached to all the details and you think are super important. You think those details are what people will resonate with but that’s not what they’re going to take away.
  • 25:05 You have to think about it from an outside perspective. What are they going to take away from what you tell them? Instead of dumping your whole story on them and hoping they take away the good parts, be intentional about it and practice it. You want to get your story together, make it concise, and practice it. Practice it with a timer even! Don’t just think about telling certain parts of your story, actually practice it because you’re going to tell it a bunch of times.
  • Reach Out To People You Know
  • 26:28 Sean: Maybe you know someone who is going to this conference so reach out beforehand and plan to meet up. You’ve got a buddy and you should stick with them because it can be scary going into a crowd of people you don’t know. If you know someone, reach out to them but if you don’t know anyone at all, look at the conference hashtag on Twitter, look for people that have similar interests as you, and strike up a conversation. You don’t have to tell them you’re scared and you’re going to this conference alone, just talk to them and share passions. Reach out and talk to them, then bring up that you’re going to the same conference.
  • 27:29 Ben: For someone who’s an extrovert, that sounds really comfortable to me. I do experience some level of awkwardness there but I’m comfortable with that. For some people, the idea of approaching someone they’ve never met sounds terrifying. You’re an introvert, how did you overcome the fear of breaking the ice with people?
  • 28:02 Sean: I remember when I first started driving up to Austin for Dribbble meetups, I decided that if I’m going to take 8 hours out of my day and drive 150 miles, it doesn’t make sense to stand off to the side. It doesn’t make sense to fly to a conference and pay for a hotel just to sit in the corner.

When you go to conferences, you’re making an investment in yourself.

You’re going to get out of it as much as you put into it.

  • 28:41 That’s what I always say about the seanwes Community too. You’ve got to invest yourself and remember everyone else is in the same position. Everyone else is scared and faking it, so why not be the first one instead of someone else having to pull you out of the corner? Why don’t you go out of your way to meet someone who’s in a corner? Instead of thinking of that as a scary thing, see yourself in that person.
  • 29:17 You know you would feel better being in the corner and it’s easier to be there. It’s still a scary experience, it’s just a little less scary in the corner, but deep down you want this experience to go well. You would love to meet people that enjoy the same things you do and you want to take that experience home with you. You want that but you’re in the corner, so see that in someone else who’s sitting off in the corner, and go talk to them. That person in the corner is a reflection of you.
  • 28:58 Ben: I like that you talked about it as an investment. Why would you make the investment and then not use it for what it’s worth? When you said that, I got this picture in my head of someone who buys some kind of electronic that has that adhesive plastic cover and they don’t take it off. You can still use it with that plastic on it but it starts to bubble and peel eventually.
  • Do Something Special
  • 31:07 Sean: If you want to stand out, you’re going to need a unique twist. Everyone has a business card, so what are you going to do to stand out? What are you going to do differently? What are you going to do to remain in peoples’ minds? I’m big on print quality so I think:

A cheap businesses card is worse than no business card.

  • 31:37 At least you can use your personality to make a great impression that isn’t undermined by a flimsy piece of paper with full-color print. If you’re going to do business, have nice business cards made because they are a reflection of you. Let’s say you’re not going to talk to anyone, you just stand there, and you brought along some representatives. People come up and want to talk to you and you send your representative to speak for you. What if those representatives are terrible people? Let’s say they’re rude, disrespectful, and mean to people. Those are your representatives!
  • 32:34 That’s the experience people have with you. Which is better, to not have any representatives or to have bad ones? That’s what your business card is doing. If you give someone a flimsy, piece-of-junk card, it speaks something about you. Even if it’s not your personality, it says something about you just like your clothes say something about you. People are going to take your business card home with them and they’re going to remember you by that.
  • 33:49 Ben: I was thinking that if people are giving away business cards, maybe I should give away something different.
  • 33:57 Sean: I give away coasters, but I wasn’t planning on saying that because people will think, “Oh yeah, coasters are different!” Well, they’re less different now that I told you I do them. I’m not saying you can’t. It’ll be different from business cards, I’m just saying to think about it. If you want to do it, do it. I don’t own coasters so I can’t say not to copy me, but I also don’t want to say to do coasters. Take that and put your spin on it. Do a di-cut coaster in the shape of your logo or don’t do coasters at all and do keychains.

The first impression is key.

  • 34:43 I will often give out about $5—raw cost, not value—worth of goods to people. Every single person gets a stack of things from me—a post-duplex letterpress business card, a letterpress coaster, and a sticker. I hand out these stacks of stuff to people and that’s incredible. That’s a substantial cost from someone you’ve never met or only follow online. Maybe the people I give those stacks to are in stage six of the seven stages, and they think, “Wow, that’s incredible!” and they go buy your $299 product (Related: e153 The Magic of 7). You never know.
  • 35:36 Ben: Yeah, you have no idea. They could even blog about your $299 product to their 10,000 followers who are looking for exactly what you have to offer.
  • 35:46 Sean: If you have a $300 product, you could give out 60 $5 stacks of goods and if one person buys the product, you’ve covered that cost.
  • 36:34 You never know when someone might think of you later because of an impression you made and what kind of affect that will have. Go all out! Take advantage of the fact you’re getting to meet people in person. You don’t get to hand people a business card over the internet so make it a really good business card or sticker. I’m just giving examples, you don’t have to copy me, but think about what you want to give out. If you’re an artist, you could draw them a picture. Think of ways you can invest in people.
  • 37:13 Ben: It’s like as a musician, when someone buys your music, they get to experience it but when they see a live show, they deserve more of an experience from you than what they receive from listening to the album. They took the time and may have spent money to listen to you play. They came to the live show because they’re looking for something more than the album. Why even have shows if you’re not going to give people something special for coming to actually see you in person?
  • 38:38 Sean: Maybe you’re a photographer—what if you went to a conference and offered portrait shoots to 20 people there. What if you treated it like a paid job, took your time on them, and wrote a blog post about that experience? Do you think they wouldn’t share that?
  • 39:14 Ben: They’re going to at least have the photo you took of them as their profile picture or avatar.
  • 39:18 Sean: That too but I bet 18 out of those 20 people would share that blog post. It’s the Rule of Reciprocity: what is the impact of 18 people sharing your work?
  • 39:32 Ben: If you’re a filmmaker, at a conference you could say to people, “I’d like to hear about what you do and feature you in a video I’m doing about the conference.” You’re giving someone exposure by letting them talk about what they hope to get out of the conference. You could do so many things with that that could be really impactful for someone.
  • Aren’t Conferences Expensive?
  • 40:13 Sean: Even if you’re an introvert, conferences are worth saving up your energy for. Saving up in all senses, but especially your energy if you’re an introvert. Magic happens at meetups and conferences. In the chat room, Tyler says, “Conferences have always been out of my investment capabilities. What value have you received that justified the high cost?” I think what would be harder is to justify the opportunity cost of not going to conferences. I really mean that because they’re life changing. You’re going to find life-long friends, accountability partners, collaborative opportunities, and possibly work or clients. You come back with a boost of inspiration. Conferences and well-done courses are the best value I’ve ever received.

If you’re thinking of the cost of conferences as an expense, then it’s going to seem high but if you’re thinking about it as an investment, it’s an incredible value.

  • 41:40 Creative South is around $125. SXSW is more than $1,000! Many conferences are $400 to $2,000 and there’s plenty of expensive ones out there. If you think of it as an expense, that’s what it’s going to be. It’s going to seem really high because you’re thinking you don’t have the “Netflix budget” for it. You’re not thinking in terms of investments. The people who spend $10,000 on a conference are going to get $400,000 worth of value out of it because they’re going to apply the knowledge to their business from that.
  • 42:37 If you have products, these are the people that are going to be your new raving fans. They’re not only going to buy your product, they’re going to have a connection with you, which leads to all kinds of good things—repeat business, recommendation, referrals, retweeting, collaboration projects, and more work. The only way not to get your value back immediately, regardless of the price, is by not trying at all. If you’re going into it with the mindset we’re talking about here, it’s the best value you’re ever going to get. At the end of the day, you really just have to step outside your comfort zone.
  • 43:55 Ben: It’s not just stepping outside of your comfort zone because you may be very comfortable with meeting people and interacting with people you’ve never met before, but you definitely have to be intentional about how you do that. When you’re introverted, there’s a level of discomfort you have to overcome but the challenge for me, as an extrovert, is when I get into a room full of people, I turn into an excited puppy. If I’m not careful, I exude this energy that I’ve got to jump from one person to the next. What it looks like to be intentional in that situation is to focus myself on one person and to resist the urge to express myself to that person, so they can be the one to speak. Introverts are really good at listening.


  • 52:26 Sean: Justin DiRose asks, “How do you find a conference that’s worth your time?” You can look at recaps and website all you want, but at the end of the day for me, it comes down to people who have been there before and whether or not they’re raving about it. That’s pretty much how I hear about conferences that are worth going to, the people who have been before can’t wait for the next one and they’re stoked about it.
  • 53:05 Ben: Also, keeping a pulse on the people that are on your same level. If most of the people you have existing relationships with and who are on your same level are going to certain conferences, it would be worth looking into.
  • Give Back Value
  • 53:27 Sean: Moataz said, “How to make an impression on a speaker you talk to after their talk,” to which I asked what his goal was, and he responded, “Not necessarily to impress them, but to get better opportunities for furthering your goals, like getting better access to them so you learn more and be better at networking inside their network.” I don’t think that right after a talk is a good time to “get in good” with someone because of the Rule of Reciprocity. They just worked their butt off for months preparing a talk and they just delivered it for you in front of hundreds of people.
  • 54:10 They just gave you a ton of value and of course, everyone is going to swarm them after the talk. Of course you’re going to go talk to them. It’s obvious that once you give a ton, people are going to notice you. When you’re trying to get noticed or get something from them, that’s not the Rule of Reciprocity working in your favor. I don’t think you should be trying to use the opportunity right after a speaker’s talk to make a good impression on them or network with you because they just gave you something. Right after a speaker’s talk, it’s your turn to go thank them for that and tell them how much it meant to you. That’s it.
  • 55:02 Ben: One of the things I really appreciate when I post a blog or send out a newsletter is when people give me feedback and they tell me specifically how something I said helped them or changed their mindset. To give value back to a speaker, don’t just make something up but if you really connected with something they said and there’s a specific way you can apply the knowledge you received from them, it’s worth sharing with them. That’s valuable feedback. I promise they’re not going to just be sitting there wondering, “Why is this guy talking about what he does?” if you’re attaching the value they’ve provided to how it’s going to better what you’re doing.
  • 56:04 Sean: Taking what they just gave you and providing feedback on it is a great bit of advice. Saying, “This is how what you said applies to me,” and wrapping it in a personal story will get that personal element in front of them, but it’s in the form of them helping you. That’s how every speaker wants to hear that. Destiny says, “Tips on how to navigate a conference as an introvert and/or a person that tends to be shy.” We did discuss this in the show already and I’ve discussed it on seanwes tv before (Related: tv055 Why You Should Be Networking Even if You’re an Introvert).
  • Get Familiar With People Before You Meet Them
  • 56:53 Justin asks, “How do you engage at a conference where you don’t already know anyone there? How do you meet people effectively?”
  • 57:01 Ben: Do some research. One of the best things you can do is be familiar with the people in the room even before you meet them. Familiar doesn’t mean you know everything about them but you at least have a picture they’ve presented publicly that allows you to bring insight into that initial conversation.
  • Stand Out
  • 57:37 Sean: Moataz asks, “How important are business cards in the digital age, and what are good leave behind ideas that you recommend?”
  • 58:31 Ben: Nothing trumps physical interaction.
  • 58:44 Sean: He knows that nothing trumps physical, he’s asking, “So what do I leave behind?” I like the coaster and sticker ideas and if you’re going to do a business card, create a really nice business card. These are only my recommendations but I suggest doing something different. Stand out! Standing out means something that won’t be on my list of recommendations. Take the idea I’m trying to impart and come up with something unique that says “you.”
  • 59:36 Ben: Something that’s unique, you, and that’s a good representative.
  • Minimize Yourself
  • 1:00:20 Sean: Jean asks, “How do you engage enough with people to create value without taking too much of their time (to the point the conversation starts getting too one-sided)?” Make it all about them. If it’s going to be one-sided, make it one-sided about them because that’s going to leave a good impression and they’re going to remember that.
  • 1:00:47 Ben: It’s counterintuitive because you think, “If I don’t tell them about what I do, then they won’t know. How will they connect what I do—which is the point of my being here—with me?” But the most valuable thing you can give someone is the impression they have of you as a person, not what you do. If they connect with you as a person, that connection is so much stronger than the connection is to whatever you do.
  • 1:01:26 The seanwes brand is so successful because you’ve given people so many ways to connect with you as a person. It almost doesn’t matter what you’re talking about because they’ve connected with you and they see who you are. You’re real with people and you’re open and honest. I say all that to highlight the importance of that connection to a person. If the only thing you accomplish is helping them connect to you as a person, then you’ve accomplished the most important thing.
  • 1:02:14 Sean: Steven asks, “What things do you wish you had done more or less of after you get back home?” The first time I came back from a conference, I was a little bit scared and unsure of what I was getting into and the first thing I wish I had done more of is attend more conferences in the past. If you’ve ever been to a camp as a kid, this is like camp for adults but even better and you get to sleep in hotels. Also, as much as possible, talk less about yourself and talk more about other people and what they’re passionate about. They’re going to ask you what you do so be prepared. Be ready to give it to them in 90 seconds and get your part out of the way. The goal should be the other person.
  • The Right Way to Follow Up
  • 1:03:32 Matt asks, “How should you follow up with people after a conference? I’ve had people put me on their mailing list after I’ve only given them my business card.” That’s pretty gross unless you got permission. You can get permission in person and add them, that’s pretty much what a double-opt-in confirmation is—“Hey, are you sure you want to be on this list?” You could get confirmation in person to add people to your list but if you’re just collecting business cards and adding those people, that’s terrible. Please don’t do that, but what he’s asking is about how to follow up with people after a conference.
  • 1:04:29 Ben: As much as you can, you should still make it about that person. If you’ve collected a ton of business cards, pick 10 of them at random and spend some time on their website, read their articles, look at their artwork, watch their videos, view their pictures, etc. Familiarize yourself with what they do and if you feel compelled to, contact them through their website. Even if you don’t point out work of theirs that you like, having invested some time in getting to know them will come through in the way you communicate with them.
  • 1:05:27 Sean: Rather than 10 cards at random, pick the 10 best cards, where you look at the card and think, “I remember this guy! We had such a great conversation.” Pick the best “leads,” but don’t think of it as what you can get out of that person, think of it as how you can provide value to them. After a conference, everyone follows up and tries to take. They say, “It was great meeting you! [Insert filler],” and then they ask for something. Even if it’s not obvious, they’re going to ask. They might do that by talking about themselves but you want to do the opposite.
  • 06:26 You want to provide value and say, “Hey, it was great to meet you. If there’s anything I can ever do, let me know. Reach out because I would love to help you with [insert something you talked about when you met].” Brainstorm ideas of how you can help them. Send them a list of ideas! Say, “Our conversation resonated with me in the days since the conference and I thought I would share these ideas with you.” Give, give, give! It’s going to come back to you.