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3 Podcast Conference Tips: Master Networking like a Pro

August 8, 2023

Podcast Conference Guide For Your Podcast

A podcast conference is an excellent way to network. As a professional speaker and podcast host, I attend several conferences per year and consider myself a conference geek. I enjoy the conversations, the enthusiasm, and even the $10 grilled cheese sandwiches!

However, I'm most fascinated with the people – I'm humbled by the opportunity to meet, interact, and chat with a myriad group of dedicated, hungry, and brilliant individuals. I gain ideas from these interactions, I find inspiration, I gain great knowledge, and I get access to secret opportunities that can help me advance my craft. The essence of networking is the concept of win-win collaboration.

Starting a conversation with someone via a computer screen?

Sure, no sweat — you've got that. Walking into a crowded room, approaching a stranger, and striking up an interesting conversation? No, no, no, no — you'd much rather stand in the corner near the snack table and pretend to be incredibly busy on your iPhone so that no one approaches you. However, that would be a waste of your registration dollars.

So, what are you going to do? You could imagine everyone in their underpants from the sidelines.

Let's be honest: that's strange and will probably make you feel even more uneasy.

You must approach networking with the intention of finding people you can collaborate with and create value rather than trying to mine the crowd for a contact or “fake” relationship. When you embrace a networking mantra of ‘how can I help' rather than ‘what can I get,' networking transforms into a magical vessel that opens the door to prosperity beyond your wildest dreams.

Since networking is about forming mutually beneficial partnerships, networking intelligently at conferences, in particular, allows you to discover strategic knowledge that can lead to greatness. Then there's the added benefit of networking: you might make a new buddy!

However, you must start with the belief that you don't expect any tangible things or services from anyone.

So as you prep for your next conference, here are my favorite tips and tactics for successful networking at podcast conferences:

Podcast Conference Tip 1: What to Do Before You Attend

Make your agenda clear before attending a podcast conference

First, determine what you hope to accomplish by coming. Yes, you want to expand your business, but how? Do you want to talk to specialists and other experts like you? Are you attempting to develop a community? Should you venture into new territory? Is it to meet with decision-makers?

Whatever your goal is, you must be sure of it before purchasing your tickets. Otherwise, you risk squandering your money on the wrong event. Nowadays, conferences frequently move at the “speed of social.” In other words, people are rapidly shifting between chats, meetings, and activities. It's really easy to get lost in the flow of things.

Decide in advance the sessions you want to attend, who you want to meet, who is worth meeting for you, and what you want the result of this visit to be. You can't participate in everything happening at the conference, so think of this early on.

Choose the right podcast conference

To deliver ROI, choose the appropriate event in the right place with the right people. If you want as many people to see your products, one of the big expos can be for you. However, these events are often attended by competitors or junior managers rather than decision-makers. Or, if you want to establish your brand in a specific niche, you'd prefer a more specific conference. An event dedicated just to your type of project.

Perhaps you want to increase your sales pipeline by networking with decision-makers. A large podcast conference may not be for you in that circumstance; instead, look for something geared toward senior executives. The point is to choose the podcast conference that'll deliver on your business goals. It's not so much about how many leaflets you distribute; it is about getting in front of the right people.

Make a list, check it twice before leaving for the podcast conference

As an old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Before you dive in, make sure you've reviewed the list of participants and created a networking short list of folks you want to engage with. Your shortlist should be consistent with your clearly stated business objectives for attending the conference.

Do you need more leads for a particular service? Do you need to fill a vital position with a strong candidate? Is there an influencer among the crowd that could help your project gain considerable exposure? Understand why you want to attend the conference and tailor your list accordingly. Intentionality builds confidence, and planning ahead of time will make networking less scary.

Have some conversation starters ready before going to podcast conference

Consider several conversation starters to utilize in various circumstances before leaving for the podcast conference (or even during your travel time). Learning how to network at a conference might be frightening, but planning ahead of time will help you shake off any jitters. Don't be concerned about sounding scripted. When you're apprehensive, try creating a list of questions to help you sound more natural and avoid drawing a blank when you approach someone.

Start with simple ones like, “Where are you from?” “What is it that has brought you to this conference?” “What sessions/speakers are you most excited about?” or “Which ones did you like best?”

Pro Tip: Read up on industry news and trends ahead of time so you'll be ready to start a conversation and ask for other people's opinions on things that interest both of you.

Engage with attendees using the podcast conference hashtag

You're probably already good at building new contacts on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, which is far less intimidating than meeting people in person. So let's start there!

People use podcast conference hashtags, and there's a hashtag for almost every event, show, and day of the month these days. Conferences that do it well understand this and leverage the power of the hashtag by coming up with one for their event. Hashtags for podcast conferences, like #Podfest22 and #Fame&Profit22, allows guests to easily track and engage in conversations leading up to or during the event. So check to see whether the podcast conference has a hashtag, and then use it to search across social networks and join in discussions with your peers.

Polish your podcast conference elevator pitch

What's just as crucial as brainstorming conversation starters? Preparing your personal pitch. Consider what's most important for others to know about you and what they might be interested in based on the context of the event you're going to.

If you're networking at an academic conference, you should prepare a brief explanation of your field of study and why you're there. If you're attending an association conference with a mix of researchers, industry experts, and exhibitors, you should prepare a variety of pitches for the various types of participants you'll meet.

Whatever you do, keep it under 30 seconds. It should be information that you can impart while waiting in line for coffee.

Podcast Conference Tip 2: What to Do During the Event

Start a conversation

Your first connection at a podcast conference opens the door to meeting more individuals. Perhaps they arrived with friends to introduce you to, or maybe you'll decide to form larger groups. To get into the groove of things with whomever you approach first, use informed, relevant conversation starters to alleviate some of the uneasiness.

Try to maintain a professional tone in your interactions, but feel free to add tiny personal touches to make the interaction more engaging and meaningful. For example, you may ask about a connection's roots and briefly describe their favorite pastimes in their hometown. You can also mention similar interests with them if you have any personal links.

Regarding podcast conferences, being hesitant will lead to missed opportunities for conversation and insight. You can walk up to anyone and start talking to them, and they'll probably be okay with it. Most people don't mind strangers approaching them and greeting them at these gatherings. Most people are not bothered by random conversations and won't mind if you join them at their lunch table.

People go to conferences with the expectation— no, the intention of networking and meeting new people. So get out there and strike up a conversation with other decision-makers.

Pro Tip: Be approachable outside of conference sessions, and avoid using your phone, laptop, or tablet. Moving about and appearing open and engaged will increase the odds that someone else looking for someone to talk to will approach you. Knowing “when to network” and “how to network” is essential.

Be ready to be the one to break the ice

Most of the time, you want to be the one who initiates and maintains a discussion. This is especially significant if you are not a higher-ranking executive. You'll likely have to approach them rather than the other way around. With so many conversations around you, one may fall flat at some point.

This is something you should avoid because it makes you appear dull. Be open to discussing your projects and the company for which you work. If you don't have much to offer, the second option is to ask probing questions. Avoid small talk and instead push questions like these:

  • What has piqued your curiosity so far in this conference?
  • Have you recently worked on something exciting?
  • What sessions are you interested in attending?
  • Do you go to a lot of conferences?

Even if you're not physically present at the conference, you can always start a live chat and speak with others who share your interests and ambitions.

Pay attention and remember the details

Even if your goal is to meet at least ten new individuals, networking takes time and effort–don't make it a race to the finish line. Pay attention to everyone you encounter and strike up a genuine discussion. Who can say? That person may be useful to you later in your career. Of course, provide your assistance. After all, establishing a new relationship requires two people.

One common mistake I see people make during podcast conferences is approaching it with a “get” attitude instead of a “give” attitude. If you're constantly searching for what people have to offer you without thinking about what you can offer them, they may perceive your interaction as less than genuine. However, if you approach an event with the desire to help people, others will recognize that and be more inclined to offer you help in return.

To build these genuine relationships, you must remember essential information from every interaction you have during the event. You can make notes to help you remember what to say when reconnecting with them after the event.

Introduce yourself to decision-makers in the podcast conference

We might attend a podcast conference with the expectation of meeting the CEO of a brand we admire or the author of a beloved book. We're thrilled to be in the same room with them, but then you notice them across the room and get uneasy, embarrassed, and — who knows — maybe a touch sweaty. So, how do you strike a conversation with this mini-celebrity from your industry's People Magazine without embarrassing yourself?

First, ensure that you have a goal. Butting into their conversation to tell them you admire their work or like their company's business approach won't generate exciting engagement. It's more likely to elicit a simple “thank you.” Consider what it is about this person that spoke to you and how it relates to your work, projects, or beliefs.

Reach out to them with confidence, and introduce yourself not as their fan but as an equal (because you are). You can say something thought-provoking that they can relate to, like, “I enjoyed your book and I reference it all the time in my show. You wrote it years ago; is there anything you'd change now that a lot of time has passed?”

Remember that you look up to this individual because you value their thought leadership — allow them to admire you by starting a meaningful and relevant conversation.

Don't let the conversation lose steam

When the small talk is up, it's simple for the conversation to devolve into something negative. Make them the topic of conversation to avoid this. You might be on the point of awkward silence at a podcast conference, but if you mention a project you know they're working on, you'll almost certainly be met with a sincere, “Let me tell you about that.”

Remember that the person you're interacting with is in the same situation as you — they also don't want the conversation to end awkwardly. And everyone enjoys talking about themselves.

You might be thinking, “How can I create connections if we just talk about them all the time?” Showing real interest in them can reveal more about you than talking about yourself. And, if a person doesn't reciprocate the action and encourages you to tell them about yourself afterward, they're unlikely to be a valuable connection in the first place. Ask them to elaborate when a conversation is going nowhere, and you'll find talking ideas to build on and run with.

Ask for something without scaring them off

The highlight of podcast events we all fantasize about is leaving with a concrete exchange that will move our business forward. You can play all the right cards to position yourself for the big moment, but there will come a point when you must put yourself out there and clearly state what you want.

Consider your response to the age-old interview question, “Why should we hire you over the other candidates?” You provide a genuine, short, humble, and excellent justification of why you're the best candidate for the job. Your strategy for achieving what you want in networking is similar, except it's critical to exhibit flexibility.

Another effective way to do this is to always be inviting. If you lead with that, it'll get you favor from people of influence in your niche. Attending a podcast conference means the stage is already set up for you–people tend to be on an emotional high, so leverage that to set up an opportunity for them with you. Now, I would open my calendar app and set up a date they can be available to be my guest–this is one thing I'm good at, and it works!

End the conversation gracefully

It's crucial to realize that networking is different from speed dating. The idea is to build useful connections, not to meet as many people as possible. While we shouldn't speed through conversations, for this reason, there are instances when we must abandon ship. Whether you're talking with someone who won't let you say anything or someone who is spending time complaining about their boss, you should always end the conversation politely.

If the discussion stalls, remark, “Please let me know how that project goes. I'd love to hear how it works out.” This demonstrates that you were involved, and even though it halts the conversation, they won't be insulted. Ask them, “Have you seen any [business name] employees tonight? I've been meaning to reach out to them.” This will express how vital it is for you to expand your network.

Podcast Conference Tip 3: Follow Up After The Event

Following up is unquestionably the most crucial aspect of networking after your initial interaction. This next step is essentially the entire point of building those contacts in the first place — to eventually connect and support each other's business goals. Here are a few innovative practices you can use to follow up on your new contacts:

  • Send a simple email to get in touch. That way, you'll be in each other's queue for a future connection.
  • Provide assistance right away. Determine what they want (a lead, career chances, connections to people in your network, etc.) and offer what appears acceptable.
  • Use sites like LinkedIn to formally add new people to your network and gain a better grasp of their professional network.
  • Make a follow-up call. You may not be able to go that deep during a busy conference, so put something on the calendar in the coming weeks to ensure that time is set aside to discuss future actions.
  • Make it clear that you intend to stay in touch with them in the future. It could imply delivering regular updates on your progress and warm emails to support your accomplishment. You can also add that they can contact you anytime if they need help with future tasks. A healthy business relationship needs continuous nurturing. Be intentional in your efforts to sustain your connection in meaningful ways.

Podcast Conferences You Don't Want To Miss

Consider attending a conference as an opportunity to learn more about topics in your niche that interest you. Here's a list of upcoming podcast conferences you should be a part of this coming year.

PodFest Expo

Podfest Expo is a genuine community of people passionate about sharing their voice and message with the world through the powerful mediums of video and audio. They're proud and well-known for bringing together as many individuals as possible to learn, be inspired, and grow together.

Podcast Movement: Evolutions

The Evolutions theme all center on the most recent research, tools, technology, and cutting-edge content that podcasters and professionals need to stay on top of their game.

This event includes instructional and interesting breakout sessions and panels divided into three unique subject tracks, insightful and motivating keynote lectures, and the best networking events and parties in podcasting. With over 10,000 podcasters from over 35 countries (and counting) joining them over the last eight years, they are delighted to continue welcoming the podcast community to their events for years to come.

Podcast Movement

The mission of Podcast Movement is to bring together and educate active and prospective podcasters and industry professionals to expand the podcast community and industry as a whole. And they're happy to have the opportunity to do so twice more in the coming years and welcome thousands of podcasters from around the world to one of the world's largest gatherings of podcasters.

Audio Intelligence Summit

The summit brings together big businesses, agencies, and publishers to explore video and audio advertising. If you engage in a lot of podcast advertising, the Audio Intelligence Summit can be a terrific event for you.

The half-day summit focuses on the methods that make audio advertising so effective and the finest strategies from renowned podcast creators. Following the event, there will be a networking happy hour where podcast hosts can network with other industry creators.

She Podcasts Live

This is the largest podcast conference of female podcasters and audio content creators created by and for women. Every speaker on the bill is a podcaster who identifies as female and has substantial professional experience. There are several networking opportunities, vendor expositions, and even nightly parties at the event.

International Podcast Day

The 30th of September is International Podcast Day–a celebration of the power of podcasts! The event provides an excellent opportunity to network with other podcasters, podcast listeners, podcast aficionados, and industry leaders. There are numerous ways to participate in International Podcast Day and numerous benefits from being part of this podcast conference.
New podcast events are constantly being planned and publicized, so this list will always be a work in progress. Remember to do your research to be up to date on podcast conferences around your area that are worth participating in.

Podcast conferences can provide your organization with new ideas and insights. So when you engage in these events, you open yourself up to quickly connecting with other professionals and centers of influence in your niche.

Attending events can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Be prepared and open to meeting new people – go over these tips as often as you need to help you prepare for the next event. Building an extensive network will benefit your business.

And in turn, you'll be able to help them. Create solid relationships, and your network will provide you with opportunities before you realize it.

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More Resources from UpMyInfluence:

How to Be An Exceptional Podcast Host

How to Be an Exceptional Podcast Guest

The Best Podcasting Equipment on a Budget

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