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Next week I’m off to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit. In short, it’s a conference for those who work in creative fields, including consultants, freelancers, and bloggers; and a range of small business owners. It’s a great opportunity to network with other creatives and businesses, learn new while improving current skill-sets, and meet sponsors and potential partners. (Yes, it’s the same conference I attended last year).

Throughout any conference or networking event, there’s a huge amount of social media transaction. Attendees post their experiences and share speaker quotes on various platforms. We follow one another and sponsors. Hashtags are used and followed with purpose.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember our social media platforms play a big role and create a major impression of our business or blog. They help remind us who we met long after we’ve exchanged general pleasantries and headed home (it’s why a good profile picture is so helpful!). If one of your goals is to gain new connections while attending such an event – and to grow these connections into partnerships and friendships – then your social media needs to be thought of as an extension of you, your brand, and your business or blog.

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While having business cards at any event is still crucial, having all social media platforms ready for a new set of eyes is equally important. Here’s a quick walk-thru – a checklist of sorts – to help prepare your social media for any conference, workshop or other networking event:

Name & Primary Website Link
The two most important items in setting up a business or blog related social media platform, is including your name and a link to your primary website, may it be your business or blog. If you haven’t done this yet, this is the perfect time to do so. I’ll hold your mug while you do that now (insert Jeopardy theme music).

If you are so pressed for time and cannot update any of your platforms, take the minute or two to double check your name and primary website link are on all the platforms you use. After all, you are heading off to a networking event.

Profile Picture & Header Images
— Make sure your profile picture is current and consistent in look-and-feel across all platforms. For example, my LinkedIn picture is a bit more professional while on my other platforms, I have an image that’s a little more fun. All were taken during the same photo shoot.
— For header images, update the images to draw in interest. Ideally you want some sort of consistency across your platforms so people know they’ve found the right place.
— If you have the time and funds to have a professional picture done, do so! However don’t sweat it if it’s not possible. Go through photos from the past six months and try to find a photo that best represents you and your business or blog – and hopefully it’s only you in the picture. While there are exceptions to this, the bottom line is it is important for people to feel confident they found you on the vast interwebs.

Tip: In moving forward, make it a goal to have head-shots done annually so your profile picture remains current. Not sure if you can swing that in cost or time? If you have any sort of annual family photos taken, ask your photographer if she/he can snap a few pictures of just you during the sitting.

Profile Description & Links
— Take the time to check your profile descriptions across all platforms and update as needed. Before you shake your head and groan about the amount of time it will take, here’s the beauty of this task: use the same write-up and tweak accordingly for each platform.
— If you’re writing – or editing – your profile description, keep it short, polished, and similar to your verbal elevator pitch. May it be witty, fun, or serious, the key is to offer a snapshot of your business or blog and draw enough interest for others to follow you on the platform of their choice.
— Make sure your contact information is current or offer an easy-to-find online contact form on your website. Even though you’re handing out your business cards, it’s important to fill in the blanks digitally speaking.
— Double-check all the primary website links across all social media platforms.
— Make sure your social media icons are current on your website. You might be surprised how many businesses forget to add their Instagram account.
— Double check for spelling errors!

Tips for Specific Platforms:
Personal Facebook Page: if your personal page is locked down and set to private, let the public see the link to your primary business or blog website on the “About” page, under the links or employment area. You work hard on it so show it off!

Facebook Business Page: review the “About” page.
– Under the short description, offer a snapshot of the business. Again, translate your verbal elevator pitch into a digital, written one.
– In the long version, offer details of your business.
– Using your business’ or blog’s logo in the profile picture is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure it’s clear.
– Change out your “happy holidays” header!

LinkedIn Profile: review your profile – all of it – and update as needed. This will take a little more time, but the key areas to review are:
– the summary and overview; is it current or does it still say “five years of styling experience” even though it’s been more than seven;
– experience timeline; if you are still working at Camp Wonka after tex years, be sure to update the positions held over that time.
– images: are there images you can include to show your work?

Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest & the Others: update the profile portion to include your digital elevator pitch and a link to your primary website for people to visit.
– If there is a team who updates the platform, it might be best to keep the logo in the profile image box. If you personally update the feed, consider having your picture in the profile section. It helps humanize the platform for followers. It also helps those you meet at a conference or networking event know they found the right person.
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Later this week I’ll share how to digitally make the jump from the analog business cards to digital connections and how to be conference ready when it comes to sponsors and hashtags.

Do you have a tip to share on how you prepare your social media for a major networking event? I would love to hear them!

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