Audacity Marketing on Mastering In-Person Networking – A Guide for Thriving at Conferences

This week Hazel and Michelle discuss their best tips and tricks for in-person networking, especially at conferences and events.

Networking isn’t about trading business cards at conferences or making small talk with strangers. It’s about genuine human connection, engaging conversations, and building relationships that last.

The Art of Asking and Connecting

Ask the Right Questions: Forget canned responses. Engage with curiosity and authenticity. Memorable connections happen when you dare to ask the real questions.

Elevate Your Pitch – The “X for Y” Formula: We all know the dreaded elevator pitch. Let’s transform it: “I do X for Y,” where X is who you truly help and what you help them do. But don’t stop at the pitch. The connection deepens with genuine conversation.

Relationships That Last a Lifetime

Build Lifelong Connections: Networking isn’t a one-time deal. It’s about relationships that grow and evolve. Just like the connections we’ve forged, some of our most valuable collaborations started decades ago.

Audacious Persistence: Success isn’t a quick fix. It’s about building a robust network over time. Stick around long enough, and your problems will find their solutions.

Networking for the Audacious

Break the Cliques: Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the awkwardness. We’ve all been there. Lean into it and make magic happen.

The Introvert’s Guide: You don’t have to be “on” all the time. Network in bursts, recharge, repeat. Be yourself, and your authenticity will shine through.

Find a Networking Buddy: Pair up and take the conference by storm. It’s fun, effective, and way less intimidating.

Networking isn’t just about face-to-face interactions; it’s about forging connections that endure and grow over time. If you’ve ever felt stuck or insincere in your networking endeavors, this episode of the Audacity Marketing Podcast offers a refreshing perspective and actionable roadmap. Take these principles, integrate them into your strategy, and watch as your network transforms into a community. Your future connections await.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to Audacity Marketing with Hazel Quimpo and Michelle Frechette. On this podcast, we’ll challenge you to think differently and break free of the same old strategies. We’ll push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to think outside the box. So take notes, make bold decisions, and be audacious.
Speaker 2 00:00:32 Hey, Hazel.
Speaker 3 00:00:34 Hi Michelle. Glad to be back. Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:00:36 It’s good to see you. So,
Speaker 3 00:00:38 We are talking today about all things in person networking, but you know what, welcome to Audacity Marketing podcast. We don’t do a good welcome. I think we need to like jazz up our welcome.
Speaker 2 00:00:49 I mean, we have an intro, but Yeah, it’s, it’s a little,
Speaker 3 00:00:52 Oh, that’s right.
Speaker 2 00:00:53 It might be lackluster. I don’t know. We might need to redo it. I’ll to revisit
Speaker 3 00:00:56 It. We’ll take it. I I’ll have to listen to it. You know, I, I listen to us and then I forget the intro. But anyway, welcome to Audacity Marketing podcast. Today we are, uh, pumped about WordCamp US coming up next week. It’s in a week. Yeah. Um, Michelle is gonna be there. I’m not gonna make it this year, but we are talking about all things in person networking. Yeah. So, Michelle, yes. Number one thing I think, and you are so good at this skill, is an elevator pitch. Tell me elevator pitch. Tell
Speaker 2 00:01:25 Me your secrets elevator pitch is important. Yeah. So it’s important to have idea, like have those words in your back pocket. Right? So practice them. What is it that your company does? So I learned this when I was, um, when I first started working for Give and I started talk, work, talk about working with plugins, people outside of the WordPress Circle, they’d be like, oh, what is give to, I’m like, oh, we’re a plugin company. Plugins are those things that blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And the eyes would just glaze over. Like, oh my gosh, she’s talking tech maker. Stop. So I revised that to say, I work for Give wp, it’s a company that helps make, um, fund that helps other companies fundraise, whether it’s a nonprofit, a for-profit, or a couple trying to plan their wedding. And people will be like, oh, that’s so cool. I’m like, okay, that is the right pitch. The other one was not .
Speaker 3 00:02:13 I love that. I think, uh, one of the best ones I always ever hear it say, um, I think Rand Fishkin says this a lot, is the way to introduce yourself is saying, I do X for Y and Y isn’t always the company, right? It’s like mm-hmm. . I do customer service for small businesses, for small businesses, building websites. I do, um, you know, community engagement for the WordPress community. I do. So I think as you get that and, and you’ll often find the more specific your why is the more interesting the conversation will become, because Absolutely. The conversation becomes even if the person isn’t that small business owner or whatever, they know who you, your audience is, and it becomes a conversation that you can wheel around and you’ll understand what their interests are as well. Yeah.
Speaker 3 00:02:59 Uh, as you know, I don’t think I go in episode without mentioning chat G P T, but man, it is good at helping with elevator pitches. It’s the laziest way. Drop your, like on p on LinkedIn, there’s a little option at the top. A lot of people don’t realize you can download a P D F of your LinkedIn profile. Um, and it’s easier than cutting and pasting the H TML website. So you can get the P D F and copy and paste it into chat g t and say, give me an elevator pitch. Um, Ooh, I love that. And, and, and play with it. Right. Get a couple different voices in there. I would say try to get it as short and concise as possible. ’cause I think the problem, and the reason it’s called an elevator pitch, is it needs to be short. Mm-hmm. , like, as you said, like nobody, nobody cares. I’m sorry. People . Like, and, and you know, you don’t care either. Like when you’re listening, you so try to make it as concise as possible. Right.
Speaker 2 00:03:55 Two things. Well, especially at someplace like Word Camp, right? Because that’s where decisions are being made. That’s where companies are meeting and greeting. That’s what people are trying to talk to and learn how they can work together. And that’s where you’re trying to sell your product to agency owners. Like that’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a business event. It’s fun. It’s called Camp. Mm-hmm. But it is a hundred percent a business event. And that’s why companies invest thousands upon thousands of dollars to attend and sponsor these events. And so it really is about not just listening to somebody talk about what they do. Like you’re in a book report. It’s about listening for those opportunities. Right. ’cause networking is about opportunities you can attend, you can learn. I mean, the first word camp I ever went to, I didn’t understand about the networking part of it. I sat in every session and I just sponged in the information. Yes.
Speaker 3 00:04:42 , there’s two reasons.
Speaker 2 00:04:44 Yeah, exactly. After a while when you realize you kind of heard most of the stuff, or you’re so ingrained in the community that there’s really not a lot of surprising topics. Mm-hmm. mm-hmm. . You spend a lot more time networking and talking to people and learning about other companies and getting information to how you make your own product better, but also learning how you can, you know, I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine, those kinds of things.
Speaker 3 00:05:09 Mm-hmm. , I think with networking, um, there’s a lot of just general people skills that work really well. Mm-hmm. , and this is going to sound very cold and scientific way of people skills, but people’s favorite subject is themselves. And always, uh, every woman knows this, but I’ll tell the men in the world the best way to treat, to like trick someone into having a good conversation is just let them talk about themselves. Mm-hmm. . And they’ll think you had the best conversation in the world, even if you didn’t say anything. Mm-hmm. .
Speaker 2 00:05:37 It’s so true. And when you, when you do interview podcasts, like I do with, with WP Coffee Talk, right? Um, people are always like, wow, that was so much fun. And I’m like, all I did was ask you 13 questions, , and you, and you did all the work. Like I just went mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. mm-hmm. the whole
Speaker 3 00:05:50 Time. So that said, let’s, let’s go through a few of our go-to questions for these ones. Yeah. Of like, and I think the, some of the easy ones make sense. They are repe, uh, pre repetitive, but where are you from, I think is great. Yep. Like, obviously wanna know where you’re from. People love talking about where they’re from. I think an in, if you ever wanna do an interesting follow up to get someone talking, I love people to tell me like, oh, what’s special about your tech? Or what’s something interesting there that Yeah, like if I ever visited that you would really like, recommend and it gets people lit, lighting up, talking about something. Mm-hmm. . Um, and that gets into conversation. I mean, where you live is a very important thing. Um, it’s for sure. Do you, do you have any of those questions or your go-tos?
Speaker 2 00:06:28 So specifically at Word Camp events, at WordPress events, I don’t just say, what do you do? I say, what do you do with WordPress? ’cause somebody can say, oh, I’m a developer. But if you say, what do you do with WordPress? They’ll say, oh, I develop and they’ll follow up with more information, right? Mm-hmm. , or I market x, y, Z company. Not, I’m a mar, I’m in marketing. So when you, when you add that extra little bit about in WordPress, it makes people feel like they belong to the community too, right? So they’re more willing to have these conversations, or it’s more natural, I should say, to have the conversation. It’s not like people are unwilling .
Speaker 3 00:06:58 Yeah. No, I think, I think that’s absolutely. I think another one would probably be how long have you been in the community? Or how many work camps have you attended? Um, yeah. Those are a great ones to open up conversation. I think, um, the if elevator pitch is something you get kind of stuck on, go to questions to me. Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Get your elevator pitch honed in. But like, questions is the life hack to conversation.
Speaker 2 00:07:22 So I don’t know if I ever told you this, but way back when I was married, my husband, my then husband and I went to the Catskills and one of those like mm-hmm. , molsy, Uber romantic, heart-shaped bathtubs, like the whole nine yards kind of
Speaker 3 00:07:36 Place, right? Oh, Uhhuh, Uhhuh .
Speaker 2 00:07:38 I swear to God, I was watching for Johnny Castle anywhere around to start dirty dancing with me.
Speaker 3 00:07:42 ,
Speaker 2 00:07:43 I would’ve carried a watermelon just to say I carried a watermelon. But, but what was interesting is it was very much like, um, cruise style. Actually I’ve never been, not a cruise, but what I’m told is cruise style dining. So you just line up and you don’t have an assigned table necessarily, but you get seated with three other couples. So there’s four couples sitting at a table for dinner. Unless you specifically pay for a romantic table for just the two of you. Did
Speaker 3 00:08:04 You put your keys in the middle, Michelle?
Speaker 2 00:08:06 I know, right? So the thing is, like these couples would tend to just talk amongst themselves behind their menus and it was very awkward. But you know me, I’m not awkward at all. I’ll just like start a conversation. So my go-to with these people, ’cause nobody cared there. Like, what do you do for a living? Like big deal, right? Mm-hmm. . So my conversation starter was if you were on Jeopardy and Alex Rebek said, so what do you, you know, X, Y, Z, what is your, what’s your story? What is the most interesting thing about you? The most thing, the most interesting thing you’ve done or accomplishment that you would tell Alex Rebek in the break time on Jeopardy. And the convers I conversations were awesome. People loved talking about, we all laughed about, the only one I really remember was like this woman said she went to a summer camp to learn how to be a circus performer.
Speaker 2 00:08:55 Not to actually be a circus performer, but like to the event to do the high wire with the, you know, like you see the stars, like practicing there and to tightrope and the stuff like that. And the conversation that went around that was like phenomenal. So that is my go-to question now sometimes is like, I might not say it exactly that way ’cause I think Alex Beck is not as much in people’s minds anymore as he used to be that he’s gone. But I’ll say like, if you were somebody were ask you what’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done, what would you tell them?
Speaker 3 00:09:20 I like that. I like that. I think one more for conversation, networking. I’ll give a tip for the super networkers of the world, like you and others who, especially in, let’s talk about Word Camp specific, but any conference that you might go to that you kind of know the community very deeply, you’re in a special spot where you can become a really nice super networker in introducing people that you know, and you perfect the cocktail party invitation. Uh, I always like to do that with my friends of like, oh, this is Michelle. She does X, Y, Z. And so you, you get these ones, you get this like advanced networking where you could do this and then introduce two people. It’s always a fun thing to see like, okay, I’m introducing Michelle Ette to Matt Cromwell. What are the two things that they’re gonna talk about? Right? You guys known each other for years. So not him , but
Speaker 2 00:10:01 Yeah. Before example. Yes,
Speaker 3 00:10:04 Exactly. ,
Speaker 2 00:10:05 That’s a really great one too, is if you can master the art of the introduction. You have gone into super networking. Absolutely. It’s, you’re beyond just meeting people. Now you’re introducing people to others and that builds you up even more in the community. So Absolutely. Percent. Absolutely. I love that. And then here’s my last little, I I, I have to talk about this. My selfie challenge. I don’t know if you’ve watched me do this on Twitter. Oh, I
Speaker 3 00:10:27 Was gonna bring that up. I think it is such a good icebreaker. So,
Speaker 2 00:10:30 So the selfie challenge is awesome. It doesn’t work for everybody. ’cause you kind of have to have a name out there for people to know Right. And have a following. So I’m really blessed that way. But my favorite thing about it is, number one, I’ve raised over $4,000 to help get people to Word camps and to sponsor, um, big Orange Heart before. So, um, actually like, almost, almost $5,000 between those three camps that I’ve done that at. Not only that though, is everybody wants to take a selfie with me. They’re tagging me on Twitter, so it’s boosting my algorithm, it’s boosting their algorithm, and it gives me all the photos that I didn’t have to take. So now I’ve got an entire album with people that I might not have approached, but that approached me. And we have all of these pictures together that I can use for forever in other things. And so there’s really something fun if you can come up with a gimmick like that. And I don’t mean gimmick in a negative way of course, but like, you know, an event like that where you can really kind of, it’s fun. .
Speaker 3 00:11:27 Yeah, absolutely. I think, um, someone Tiffany from Nexus, um, prints her own stickers and brings them to people with kind of her own, I’m not sure if it’s her name or her own kind of logo thing mm-hmm. . But it is, um, very memorable way to like different than a business card and Yeah. Kinda has your own vibe, not just your whole company’s thing. Like
Speaker 2 00:11:45 I have those too. I have a, I Michelle, I have a Michelle Wa if anybody’s interested I’ll send
Speaker 3 00:11:50 It. The, the smart ladies know that sticker move. Um, well let’s talk into, I think one of the things as you get into conversation with people, you’ll notice some of the questions Michelle and I were recommending aren’t necessarily all about like, what is it, like what is the thing you can do for me right now? Right. It’s, um, networking is very soft in the, in the sense of keep your mind open first of all is like, man, you never know where deals might come from. Mm-hmm. Like of different things or I am, the thing I’ve realized every year I get older is success is only because it’s easier to reach out people that you’ve known for years. Like honestly such old, that if people you’ve known and you can, that’s really because I’m like, oh, I’m kind of doing the same thing, but now I could do it way faster than when I was 25 because I know 10 people that do X, Y, Z that I need. Mm-hmm. . And, um, I think when you’re networking keep the whole world in mind when you’re talking to people. Yeah. Like relationships are gonna be your key to literally any success you have in life. And it makes so much easier the bigger your Rolodex is. Oh my God. Rolodex. Yeah. To call people .
Speaker 2 00:12:58 I know I still had one for the longest time, . But the other, the other thing I wanted to ask you about, and you and I are not introverts. I know that you have a different recharge mm-hmm. factor than I do. But what is your advice to people who aren’t feeling confident enough, and maybe it’s not even confident, but they’re introverted and don’t want to approach other people to start these conversations. What do you think is this,
Speaker 3 00:13:18 I think mm-hmm. . Yeah. One idea I’ll pick up from you actually is you set up a lot of appointments ahead of time and do, um, let people do either a Calendly or even Google Workspace does appointment slots now where folks can set up an appointment with you. You are very extroverted and do that. Some people might be too embarrassed to even do that. Right. It’s like, Hey, set an appointment up with me anytime. However, I have, and I would certainly recommend this to anybody at any level to reach out to people before you go to a conference and set up 15 minute calls. Because I’m trying to remember right now that pause of me trying to think of it. Anybody has ever told me no on that? And the only time I’ve ever been told, told no is when I’m really shooting my shot is like a big VC or something. But otherwise, like no, it’s everybody. Yeah. Me.
Speaker 2 00:14:05 People want to,
Speaker 3 00:14:07 That’s why they’re going exactly like you’re in the same boat as everybody else. Mm-hmm. conferences are so weird in this way because so many people go and they think they’re the only one feeling this way. Mm-hmm. , and I promise you almost everybody else there feels same. You’re
Speaker 2 00:14:18 Not alone. Exactly. the other, the other thing is look for people like me, not, not me in particular, but people like me, I like that because if you know somebody or even like think they might know you and they’re an extrovert and you can kind of tag along for even lunch or 10 or 15 minutes, they will probably introduce you to other people, which will help grow your ability to start to meet and know other people tooly. So I always tell people like, I’m the biggest extrovert at WordCamp. If you are not, find me, I’ll introduce you to people. I love that kind of thing.
Speaker 3 00:14:52 I love that. Find a wing woman like Michelle is a great tip. Another one is actually to find, um, newbies do this a lot at various conferences or various introverts. I’ve done this myself where you kind of, you end up finding a buddy. Like you end up with lunch with someone at the first day and that ends up kind of being your buddy. And Yeah. Honestly, you end up in a, a deeper sense of networking. You meet less people because you’re kind of together going, doing things. Honestly, I don’t hate it. I think it’s a decent method Yeah. To go out and, like, you usually don’t do it on purpose, but if you find yourself in that situation, I think it’s great you made a nice friend who’s gonna probably be in network for connection for the rest of your life.
Speaker 2 00:15:27 Absolutely. Absolutely. No, I love it. And and by the same token, if you’re an extroverted person, don’t spend your time with just your buddies. Right. Make yourself available to other people. One of my favorite things to do is either sit down at a table by myself and just see who joins me or mm-hmm. if there’s an empty seat to the table full of people, I don’t know. And it doesn’t look like they’re having a private meeting. ’cause who would at a Word Camp Luncheon Exactly. I’ll say, Hey, is the seat taken? And they’ll, they’ll usually like, oh no, you can join us. You know? And then if it’s really quiet, I’ll be like, so what do you do with WordPress ?
Speaker 3 00:15:55 Just exactly. Start
Speaker 2 00:15:57 Some conversations going, what’s your, exactly what’s your takeaway from the conference so far? Like those kinds of questions can really get conversation, really get conversations going.
Speaker 3 00:16:05 Absolutely. Or I mean, talk about food or we’ll talk about food too. food is out,
Speaker 2 00:16:09 Food is the equalized food in the weather. We can always talk about food
Speaker 3 00:16:12 In the weather. Exactly. Uh, my hair’s gonna be, I hair’s gonna be rough out there next week.
Speaker 2 00:16:16 Thank God for air, air conditioning, .
Speaker 3 00:16:18 Yeah. Um, the other thing I do, so my kind of extroversion, like I do, my bucket kind of runs empty pretty quickly. So I will do it in bursts. Like I’ll do, like, hey, I’m gonna go and work the floor, meet a lot of people, hang out with people, and then usually like two hours I need like, okay, I’m gonna go sit alone for . Love another verse later on. But I, it’s, it’s, it helps me not get burnt out and like, I don’t know, turn into a jerk or whatever else happens when you, when I need a Snickers, you know? . Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:16:49 I hear you. And that’s the other thing is keep a Snickers in your bag. , keep
Speaker 3 00:16:52 Anick, keep the Snickers in your bag. Always bottle
Speaker 2 00:16:54 Of water and a Snickers you could never go wrong. .
Speaker 3 00:16:57 Absolutely. Um, then I guess we should talk a little bit about though, like how, so networking is important, but it’s like, so what, like is it important to email people right after? Do you take pictures of name badges, all of these things? What’s your method, Michelle? Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:17:13 So my method is to have people do a selfie challenge with me. And I can probably, oh yeah,
Speaker 3 00:17:18 That’s right. That was my method. Yep.
Speaker 2 00:17:20 That really does a lot. But also when I am meeting people for the first time and I wanna follow up with them, I will take a picture of their badge and because if I just like scan their badge and I open up a website or something, I’m never, I’m gonna close my tabs on my phone. I’m never gonna remember, remember what it was. But if I take a picture of their badge, then I will have a memory of, of what it was and I’ll know what I wanted to follow up with them about. Um, and even just, you know, to dmm people on Twitter and be like, Hey, it was so great to see you at Work camp. Um, yep. Let me know if you have any questions about the things we talked about, about, you know, whatever it is. Um, at Word Camp, uh, Phoenix for example, a whole bunch of us got together and we started to talk about creating a safe space for the LGBTQ plus community in WordPress. Love that. And as a result of that, we created lgbtq and its own Slack channel. So I was able to follow up with people afterwards and say, Hey, we’re moving this project forward. We’d love to have you involved if you’d like to be at the very least, would you like to join the Slack channel? And start those kind of conversations.
Speaker 3 00:18:15 You had a group of people mm-hmm. , I did,
Speaker 2 00:18:16 Mm-hmm. . So those are the kinds of things that can really follow an event like that. It’s, it’s doesn’t have to be about work work. It can also be about other things outside of work and other passion projects that you have and working together with people in those ways too.
Speaker 3 00:18:30 I love that. Um, one other one, I don’t know if the word camp badges this year will have QR codes on them. Um, but I’ve taken to very often these days at conferences, I go to printing my own qr. Um, that adds me on LinkedIn automatically. Cool. So that folks, yeah, so when they scan it, it opens up their LinkedIn app and adds and goes to my profile so they can follow me immediately. I’m gonna have to do that.
Speaker 2 00:18:55 I love that.
Speaker 3 00:18:55 It worked really well last year and that way I just went through all my new follows after and I could send LinkedIn messages. It was a, it was a pretty fast way. I also take the pictures of my name badges and do all that kind of jazz. But the LinkedIn one was a fun new one, so I just got a little sticker, put it on my badge and like, yeah,
Speaker 2 00:19:09 I like that.
Speaker 3 00:19:10 And with and admin, I guess you just, same for Twitter or X or you know, whatever
Speaker 2 00:19:14 You Yeah, for sure. Whatever it’s called now. . .
Speaker 3 00:19:17 Well this was a great one, Michelle. Uh, anything else to add?
Speaker 2 00:19:20 No, I’m just excited to meet people, um, at work Us and other events, you know, that will follow work here. Rochester’s coming up here at the end of September. Um, little I, I’ll share one of my networking, uh, cos if I will, if I, if I may with you, is that, uh, several years ago I ran for public office, did not get elected, but that was on the heels of 12 years of public office for as a, um, a school, uh, school board member. So as a result of running for public office, I met a lot of people who are also running for public office. One of those people happens to be a senator now. Right. And I, and I have his phone number. So I texted him and I said, I would love for you to come give an opening, you know, five minute opening remarks at this event at em, September 30th at the School of the Arts said he is like absolutely anything for you. And I was like, who doesn’t wanna hear that from a senator? So , you never know what, it’s amazing she can accomplish.
Speaker 3 00:20:12 That’s the thing. No, it, it truly is. Like, and I’ve had so many similar stories like that and I don’t know, this is like a message to like the youth of the world for that is like, it’s so like the more people you meet, man it, the older when as you get older that it adds up.
Speaker 2 00:20:27 It really does. It really does so
Speaker 3 00:20:30 Well, great. Well, good luck everybody at Word Camp and I think it’s gonna be a lovely week. Look out for Michelle to be your wing woman and we’ll see you next time. I’ll
Speaker 2 00:20:36 Be there. All right. Hi,
Speaker 1 00:20:39 This has been Michelle Frechette and Hazel Quimpo with Audacity Marketing. Dare to Be Different and Dominate Your Market with Audacity.