Want more leads, connections, and exposure from the live events you attend? Wondering how to use LinkedIn to build rapport with people who follow the event?
In this article, you’ll discover a strategy for using LinkedIn to build awareness for your business before, during, and after a live conference or trade show.
Why Use LinkedIn to Amplify Your Impact at Live Events?
LinkedIn started as an online job fair. Unless you were in the market for a new gig, it was hard to justify spending time there.
But over the past few years, LinkedIn has evolved into a full-service platform for building your professional reputation. You can use the platform to publish thought leadership, connect with colleagues and peers, and follow inspiring mentors.
And there are plenty of folks to network with: The latest count was 675+ million members and rising. LinkedIn is also reporting higher engagement on posts than other social networks.
Basically, if you’re not investing in building your professional brand on LinkedIn, it’s time to start. As a marketer and public speaker, I’ve especially found a great deal of value in leveraging the platform before, during, and after industry events.
Are you presenting at or attending a conference soon? Want to expand your network, increase engagement, and get more opportunities from your appearance? Here’s how to maximize your impact on LinkedIn before, during, and after an event.
#1: Build Awareness Before the Event
The month or so leading up to an industry event, your company’s LinkedIn page, your key stakeholders’ profiles, and your profile should set the groundwork to:
- Promote your brand’s presence at the event.
- Connect with attendees and speakers.
- Associate your brand with the value inherent in the event.
Here’s how to accomplish these goals.
Highlight Your Presence at the Event on Your Company LinkedIn Page
This first step will help expand your audience of attendees and speakers.
Edit your pages and profiles to emphasize the upcoming event. Add a new header image that mentions your affiliation with the event, including details like your booth number and/or the date and time of your scheduled presentations.
Next, create a post sharing all of that pertinent information and a CTA for attendees to follow and connect with your brand at the event. If there’s an event hashtag being used on LinkedIn, add that to your posts. Pin that post to the top of your updates section for the duration of the event.
Connect With Speakers
Use the event’s agenda to identify presenters and search for them on LinkedIn. You can then send a personalized connection request. Keep in mind these speakers will be inundated with requests, so it can be tricky to stand out. Here’s how to cut through the clutter:
- Personalize the request—that’s the bare minimum. An automated request will get lost in the shuffle. When writing your message, start with a polite greeting, state your name, share a relevant personal link, and set expectations.
- Send the request from your personal account. The request should be a personal one, not on the brand’s behalf.
Post Long-Form Event-Centric Content
Now you can begin offering value to your audience. In the weeks leading up to the event, publish long-form, relevant content both on your company blog and on LinkedIn with promoted posts and in native LinkedIn posts from you and your executive team. Here are a few ideas for long-form event-centric content:
Interview speakers appearing at the event: It can be tough to snag an interview with busy public speakers, but it’s possible with a little planning. Start building a relationship with speakers by following them on social media (including LinkedIn) and sharing and commenting on their posts.
Once you’ve had a few interactions, ask them if they’ll answer a question or two, either on a call or via email. You can do a long-form interview or combine several short interviews with multiple speakers for a roundup post.
Highlight relevant sessions: Pick the sessions that align with your brand’s purpose and messaging, and those that feature speakers you want to honor. Then put together a post with a schedule that your readers can follow. Here’s an example of a sessions post for eTail East:
Spotlight things to see and do around the event: LinkedIn doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Event attendees are likely traveling—they’re in an unfamiliar city with nothing to do between sessions. A city guide of restaurants, scenic sites, or attractions can provide value for your audience and inspire them to follow you and your company on LinkedIn.
And of course, if someone from your organization is presenting, they should publish a long-form LinkedIn post to preview the presentation, with a few excerpts teasing the key takeaways.
Connect With the Event Group on LinkedIn
Participate in LinkedIn groups to make more connections before the event, share your valuable pre-event content, and participate in discussions.
LinkedIn groups are a little hidden within the site’s functionality, but they’re still active. You can find them with a regular search. On the search results page, click the More option and select Groups.
Now you can see the groups related to your search query:
The key tip for participating in LinkedIn groups is to lead with value. It’s not a place for brand or self-promotion. If you can engage in thoughtful discussion and share useful content, you’re far more likely to be welcomed into the conversation.
Target Likely Event Attendees with Advertising
If you’re willing to put a little money behind your event-awareness efforts, LinkedIn has some robust targeting options. You can reach likely attendees by targeting based on a combination of:
- Job title/role
Consider running LinkedIn ads promoting your long-form content, your session at the event, and/or your presence in the vendor area.
#2: At the Live Event
You’ve connected with an audience of potential attendees, advertised your presence, and offered high-quality content to whet people’s appetites. Once the event begins, you should continue to make connections and nurture, and further link your brand awareness with the event itself.
Use the My Network Tab to Connect With Attendees in Real Time
Networking is one of the most compelling reasons to attend an event. With LinkedIn’s mobile app, it’s incredibly easy.
I find connecting on LinkedIn is far more effective than handing out business cards. Instead of hoping someone keeps my card long enough to get to a computer and maybe connect, we can do it in the moment. The last few events I’ve attended, I’ve seen fewer and fewer business cards changing hands. We’re all already carrying smartphones, so why not use LinkedIn for networking instead?
In addition to old-fashioned handshakes and introductions, you can connect with on-site attendees with just a few quick steps.
When you speak at an event or have a booth, open the My Network tab and tap the Connect button.
Select Find Nearby from the pop-up menu.
Now ask everyone at your panel to do the same. The app will then populate a list of attendees. Tap to connect.
Share Key Takeaways in Real Time
One easy way to earn more attention for your brand during the event is to bring takeaways from the event to your audience in real time.
When anyone on your team attends a session, encourage them to post standout thoughts and quotes, in the moment, using the event hashtag.
To avoid clogging people’s feeds with multiple posts, start with a “parent post” on your LinkedIn profile. Use the parent post to announce your intention to share takeaways in real time. Ideally, your post should include a photo of the speaker and a quick summary of the upcoming session. Then you can post notable quotes and takeaways as comments on your parent post.
Pro Tip: After the presentation, repurpose your thread into a blog post to publish either on your brand’s blog or as a long-form LinkedIn post. You can share highlights of sessions from your company page, too.
Post In-the-Moment Native Video on LinkedIn
It’s no secret that LinkedIn’s algorithm promotes native video content. Your goal is to bring your audience some of the on-site event experience. Short-form, informal clips shot on a smartphone are perfect and with the LinkedIn app, you can shoot video and upload it directly to your feed. Remember to use the event hashtag.
Ideas for video clips include quick reactions after a panel and on-the-spot interviews with attendees or speakers.
Pro Tip: Before you shoot and publish video from an event on LinkedIn, double-check the event policies to be sure you know when and where you’re allowed to film. You’ll also need permission from anyone you record before you start filming.
#3: After the Live Event
Once the event is over, continue to bring value to your new audience by repurposing the content you captured during the event and adding new insight to keep it fresh.
This is a great opportunity to strengthen the connections you made with speakers at the event, add some credibilty to your brand’s thought leadership, and continue conversations about topics discussed at the event.
Publish a Long-Form Event Wrap-Up Post
Create a long-form LinkedIn post using key takeaways from each session you attended. Encourage people to add their own takeaways and experiences in the comments of your post. That way, you create a space for people to share ideas—you might even pick up a few insights you missed.
Share Event Quotes as Image Posts
Remember all those takeaways you shared as comments on the LinkedIn parent post? You can repurpose those as illustrated image posts, for use on both your company page and individual profiles.
Use the images as stand-alone feed posts meant to drive engagement, or as the header image to link to a roundup post on the company blog. Be sure to include the event hashtag in your post.
Pro Tip: A carousel post is a great way to highlight your photos, too. Carousel posts generally get more engagement than the average video or photo post, since they’re multiple posts in one.
Used strategically, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help raise your brand’s visibility—and your personal thought leadership—before, during, and after an industry event.
Start well before the event to get on the radar of speakers and high-profile attendees. Share valuable content and run targeted LinkedIn ads to promote it. At the event, use the Find Nearby feature to connect with more attendees, and bring as much of the live experience to your audience as you can. When the event is over, continue to repurpose your content and prepare for the next opportunity.
What do you think? How do you get more out of live events with LinkedIn? Share your thoughts in the comments below.