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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: networking

Secrets to Breaking the Ice

Dave Delaney

10 Must Know Conference Networking Tips.  Free download here .

10 Must Know Conference Networking Tips. Free download here.

Networking at conferences is not always easy. Have you ever arrived at a networking event or conference alone? It can be daunting to walk up to someone and introduce yourself. What do you talk about? How can you break the ice?

The first step to meeting new people at a conference or networking event is to understand that you are not alone in being alone. Look around the room and note the other people who are standing by themselves, too. This is your opportunity to ease the tension by introducing yourself.

The badges are your invites

If there is one thing every attendee has in common at a conference, it is that they are wearing a badge. That lanyard is your invitation to approach and introduce yourself. Every person wearing one has likely already experienced something similar to you, like perusing the exhibit hall, eating the lunch buffet or attending a keynote presentation.

Use the person's name from their badge when you introduce yourself. Shake their hand and look them in the eye. Your smile and use of their name will be most welcomed. If they have an unusual name, ask how they pronounce it and then repeat it multiple times to help you remember it and to earn their respect.


Kio Stark, author of "When Strangers Meet," uses the term "triangulation" to define finding a common point of interest to discuss. For example, if you are meeting someone exiting the lecture area, you can ask her what she thought of the keynote speaker. If you are leaving the leaving the lunch buffet, you can ask her what she thought of the salmon.

--- Grab my Ten Must Know Conference Networking Tips ---

Picture a triangle. You are on one point. The person you are speaking with is on the other point. And something you both have shared is the third point. This makes breaking the ice much easier. Look around the room for other ideas on something you can talk about, like a piece of art or a view from the window.


As you speak with someone, consider the ice-breaking acronym F.O.R.D. Each letter represents a different topic you can discuss. F is for family, O is for occupation, R is for relaxation and recreation, and D is for dreams and aspirations.

I don't recommend necessarily asking these questions in order. Instead, begin by asking about their occupation since this is more of a general topic. You may learn that the person moved to a different city because their spouse has a new position there. This gets into the topic of family, where you can ask about children, how long they have been married and where they met their spouse.

You can follow up by asking them what they do for fun in their new city. This will lead the conversation into how the person relaxes or finds recreational activities on the weekends. And finally, you might get into talking about career goals and where they would like to retire to or what their summer travel plans are. I don't know about you, but when I think of travel and retirement, I definitely think of relaxation and recreation.

So the next time you arrive alone at a conference, remember that nobody goes to remain alone. People want to talk with you.

Break the ice, ask the questions, listen carefully to their answers, and remember to ask for a business card if you enjoy the conversation. Don't forget to follow up when you return to the office. Following up is the second most important step in networking after showing up.

For more conference networking tips visit:

Tis the Season to Connect!

Dave Delaney

8 Holidays Networking Tips

The holiday season is the best time to get out to local networking events to meet new people and see old friends. Get started by reviewing your inbox (and spam folders) for invites you might have missed. Follow this by checking Facebook for invites and ideas. RSVP and get out there.

8 Holiday Networking Tips

1. Smiles are contagious. Even if you are nervous, your smile will tell people you are friendly and happy to meet new people.  

2. Be nice. Avoid gossip or trashing talking anyone. Look for ways you can help the people you meet. Maybe you can provide an introduction during the event you are attending.

3. Set goals. Think about why you are attending the event. You aren't just attending for the free h'orderves and cocktails. What do you hope to gain by attending? Who do you wish to meet? What would you like the outcome to be?

4. Avoid too many h'orderves and cocktails. This is pretty obvious, but we all know that guy who misses the memo each year. Should you have one too many take a cab or Uber home. Better yet… don't drive to the event in the first place.  

5. Talk to strangers. Get away from the usual crowd to meet new people. The people standing alone don't wish to be alone. If they wanted to be alone they would have stayed home. Go introduce yourself and ask them what brings them to the event. 

6.  Ask questions and listen. When you ask someone a question, be sure to look them in the eyes as they are answering. Make them feel like they are the only person in the room. Ask a follow-up question like, "How did that make you feel?" or "What happened next?"

7.  Don't be a Las Vegas blackjack dealer with your business cards. Ask for someone's business card after you have talked and a connection has been made. Just because you asked where the bathroom is, is not an opportunity to ask for a card. Save some trees by refraining from handing out your cards, unless you are asked for one. Someone else's card is far more valuable because you have their information to follow-up. Otherwise, you are left hoping they follow-up with you.

8.  Follow up. I wrote a post here recently about the importance of following up. Following up is the second most important part of networking after showing up. The longer you leave it, the less likely you will reconnect with the person. This is a wasted opportunity to help them and build a new relationship.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Are You Missing The Second Most Important Step In Networking?

Dave Delaney

What is the second most important step in networking?

In my book, New Business Networking, I remind my readers how showing up is the most important part of professional networking. When you don't take the time to attend the event you miss out. You have to brush off the fear and excuses and get out to meet new people. If you aren't meeting new people you aren't networking effectively.

The second most important step in networking is the follow-up. I'm willing to bet there is a pile of business cards on your desk that you have been neglecting since the last event you attended. Am I right?  

In order to get the most return on your time spent networking you must follow up. When I speak with colleagues about this step they often admit they skip it. Here are some ways to improve your follow up.

Follow-up while you are fresh.

After every conference or networking event allocate time to following up. Set fifteen minutes on your calendar per day to email the people you met. Doing so as soon as possible will help the recipient remember you. The longer you leave it, the less fresh you are in their minds.

Jar their memory.

Attendees at my networking workshops know they must take notes on business cards to help them remember how they should follow-up. When they write that email, they refer back to the note, so they can jar the recipient's memory on what they talked about. For example, perhaps they spoke about a recent hockey game. The sender can include a link to a related story or video from YouTube. This will help the recipient remember them.

Include a call to action.

When you follow-up think of a call to action. What do you want the recipient to do after your email? I like to write a summary blog post about my experiences at a conference. I include the link to the blog post in my follow-up. Perhaps you took photos at the event. You could upload the images to your Facebook page and send a link to the album. This will get the recipient one step closer to liking your page or visiting your blog. Another call to action is an invitation to speak over the phone, or meet for a "no agenda" coffee. Always put yourself in the recipient's shoes when answering the question, "What's in it for me?"

Connect on LinkedIn.

I am a big fan of LinkedIn because it is the most powerful social network for professional networking. Instead of sending the recipient a connection request right away, use email to let them know. Not everyone checks LinkedIn frequently. Mention in your follow-up email that you are going to send them a connection request on LinkedIn, so you can offer an introduction to someone in your network (should they need it). This offers value to the recipient. In your subsequent LinkedIn connection request remind the person how you met, so they are more likely to accept your request.

Following up is a crucial part of networking that is too often overlooked or ignored. Become a better networker by following these steps. Read on for more tips about networking.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Mine Old Messages For New Opportunities

Dave Delaney

Photo from

Photo from

Nurturing your network isn’t always easy because of limited time. Finding new business can also be challenging for the same reason. Believe it or not, you can achieve both by referring back to the conversations you have already started.

If you follow these simple steps, I bet you will rekindle old relationships and perhaps even find new customers and opportunities.

Email: We burn through so many emails in a day that it’s tough enough to keep up with new messages. However, if you set some time aside today to review older messages, you will find people you should check back in with. The best way to do this is to search for messages as far back in time as possible. You might want to set a goal of reviewing just a single month each day.

Text messages: I love scrolling way back to the earliest messages on my current iPhone. Scanning through these messages always gives me ideas on who I should follow up with.

Facebook Messenger: With over 900 million users (April 2016), this app is one that shouldn’t be ignored. It is likely you have used Messenger to communicate with your connections. Fire up the app and scroll through the messages to find people you should check back in with.

Twitter direct messages: DMs are the private tweets you have exchanged on Twitter. I am always reminded of people I need to follow up with when I review old direct messages.

LinkedIn messages: Go to and scroll through the messages you have exchanged with your LinkedIn connections. I did this as I was writing this article and found a speaking opportunity I need to follow up with.

Snapchat: According to Edison Research’s excellent Infinite Dial study, Snapchat is the second most powerful social platform in the United States. Snapchat has more users than Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. The social network has grown as much in one year as Twitter has in four years combined.

Since Snapchat automatically deletes your previous chat messages (or “snaps”), reviewing the old ones is impossible. Instead, scroll through your friends, and send a new snap to those you haven’t heard from in a while. I recently started sending 10-second video note messages to friends I haven’t spoken to in ages. I heard back from one friend right away. We ended up hopping on the phone for over an hour and found an opportunity to do some work together.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. We are all busy people. If we take a moment to slow down and review the conversations we have had, we will find opportunities to help the people we are connected to.

Try some of these tips to follow up with the people in your life. Don’t forget to follow similar steps using your other favorite messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Skype.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

6 Tips To Create A Killer Networking Group

Dave Delaney

Create Your Networking Group

One of the best ways to grow your professional network is to host your own networking group. A few months after moving to Nashville, I created Geek Breakfast as a way to keep our growing technology community together. Five years ago, I launched Nashcocktail, to connect local social media professionals. You can create a group too, if you follow these five simple steps.

1. Begin with your goals. What do you hope to gain from creating a networking group?

My intention with the groups I created was to connect people and build community. I could measure this by reviewing membership and attendee numbers each month to be sure we were growing.

2. Find an available or underserved niche.

Do a simple Google search to find events in your city related to your niche. Don’t be discouraged if you find groups already exist. You should attend the events to understand how they are run. Ask yourself how your group would be different.

You may also discover a dormant group. Reach out to the organizer and ask if you can take it over. That’s what Jeff Dolan did with the Nashville Filmmakers group. Jeff explains how he did it in my interview below, plug in your headphones and enjoy.

3. Connect with and invite local leaders in the your niche.

I’m a big fan of the FollowerWonk tool. You can use this to search Twitter bios in a specific location. For example, you can search “author” and “Nashville” and find anyone on Twitter around the city, who include author in their bio. FollowerWonk will show you who are the most influential based on the number of followers they have and tweets they create.

Use LinkedIn to search for companies who provide products or services related to your niche. For example, if you are creating a networking group for the travel industry, search for travel agents, hotels, and airlines on LinkedIn. Find the people who work for the companies and reach out to invite them to your group. Once you determine the names of the companies you can also see if you have friends who work there using a simple Facebook search.

4. Use a service like MeetUp, Facebook Events, or Eventbrite to create your invitation. is a good site to create a group around a reoccurring event. Facebook Events should be used in conjunction with your Facebook Page to organize events. Eventbrite is an alternative to TicketMaster for event organizers to create tickets.

5. Reach out to everyone you know to announce the event.

Use social media, email, and pick up the phone. You want to promote the heck out of your group to get a good turnout. The first event is important because you want group members to return next time.

You may choose to pay to promote your group’s event on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I can help you with this if you need to better understand how to affordably advertise on these platforms.

6. Poll your attendees before the event to learn more about their specific needs, so you can better serve them.

Use SurveyMonkey to create a short, simple survey. Send it to your members to ask them what they hope to gain from attending your event and being a member of your group.

Sending an occasional survey to members can also help you get the pulse of your group to ensure everyone is enjoying their membership.

Creating and running your own networking group isn't difficult. However, it takes time to grow and nurture your group. Be patient and listen to your members, they will ultimately determine if your group is a success.

If you have questions about organizing your own group and events, reach out to me with a comment below or on Twitter @davedelaney.

Is "What Do You Do?" a Bad Question?

Dave Delaney

There is a school of thought that asking a person what they do for a living is a bad icebreaker. I discovered this recently, while I was at a conference speaking with a friend. He explained that he was tired of the question, because there is so much more about a person than what they do for a living. I pondered the thought and I agreed at the time. However, I read a book recently (hat tip to Chris Brogan) that changed my thinking on whether or not this is a good question to ask somebody you meet. In "Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money" by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, he justifies why asking what you do for a living is an important icebreaker.

Lapin writes, “What do you do for a living? is a legitimate question because the inquirer really wants to know what the person does for other people. He or she is wondering how others find you useful. How you help your fellow humans is a proud part of your identity. The only person to be embarrassed by the question is one who has no answer.”

We should be proud of what we do. If we are ashamed or embarrassed, than we should probably be seeking other means of work. The question is valid and should be answered with pride.

Lapin continues, “… no matter how you serve your fellow humans, think of yourself as doing something fascinating; see yourself in business, rather than merely being something.”

What do you do for a living?

When I get asked what I do, I reply that I help people understand how to truly use social media and content marketing to grow their business. If they ask me for more details, I explain how I audit what they are doing online, make recommendations and provide them with a way to measure the results to be sure they succeed.

What is it that you do? Take a moment right now to grab a piece of paper and a pen and write out a short paragraph. Repeat it out loud to yourself. How does it sound? If it feels good, read it to a colleague or your spouse for their opinion. My wife, Heather, provides me with feedback that always helps with everything from client work to writing my book, "New Business Networking." Test your own answer to ensure it accurately paints a picture that someone asking will understand.

I was picking up a few things at my local, big-box hardware store last weekend, when I was blatantly reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. I’m not talking about Halloween or Thanksgiving, I’m talking about the one with the big jolly fella in red. Every professional knows that with holidays come holiday parties, which makes the season perfect for honing our networking skills.

The next time you find yourself at a networking event, mixer or conference, don’t hesitate to ask someone what they do. Ask her a few follow-up questions to learn more about her business. When the time comes, she will likely ask you what you do. Be proud to explain how you help people with your work. She may even become your next customer.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

How Women Network and Girls to the Moon

Dave Delaney

My friend, Courtenay Rogers, is an incredibly well networked person. She is president of the Nashville chapter of the American Marketing Association (NAMA) and is co-founder and COO of the upcoming conference, Girls To The Moon. This week I interviewed her about the importance of networking and to share more about this important event for young girls.

How has networking helped shape your career?

I've always enjoyed meeting new people and it's a natural part of my life. I'm a Navy brat, so moving every two years growing up forced me to make new friends very quickly. Being the new kid in class so often helped me grow up to be the person who walks up to a group of people and says hello. I'm still that way today.

I'm a connector. My passion in life is to connect good people doing good things with others who can help. Networking needs to be about the big picture of helping others and if you're expecting something in return, ultimately you're not going to be successful.

What is your best networking tip for marketing professionals or those attending local industry events?

The best advice I can give is to get the list of attendees before the event if you can. Then look up the people you want to connect with on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Also, if the event has a hashtag, make sure you check it out and see what people are saying and connect with those folks, too.

What is Girls to the Moon? 

GTTM is a social enterprise company focused on empowering young girls ages 8 to 14. We're starting with a one-day campference (mix between a camp-style unconference and a conference) in Nashville on Sept. 26 that brings girls together to build their curiosity and creativity, strengthen their relationships and grow their confidence to become leaders.

Girls to the Moon is about surrounding the next generation of girls with truth and education on topics ranging from creative writing and coding to healthy relationships and sex. We want to be a catalyst for conversation about how girls should love themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin and become the best humans they can be.

Do men and women network with one another differently? If so, how?

I think men and women are different, period. So yes, they would naturally network differently. I notice that women ask more personal questions while men keep it a lot more superficial and focused on business. Neither is bad. I personally like different.

Girls to the Moon sounds like an amazing opportunity for girls from 8 to 14. What key lessons do you want them to take away from the conference?

It's super simple: We want these girls to love themselves, love others and know that they have absolutely every opportunity to do whatever they want in life.

What is the best way for new relationships born at Girls to the Moon or elsewhere at other conferences to be nurtured so they last years instead of days?

Our goal is to eventually build an app for the girls to use to stay connected, but for the first campference, we're going to make sure they exchange emails and use the hashtag #gttm15 in their conversations so they can connect on social media as well. The younger crowd will probably ask for phone numbers. My daughter has my business card and hands it out to her friends, so she can connect with them after school. We do have a great email list that people can join to keep up with all things GTTM on our website.

Be sure to learn more about this conference at

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

The Secret Way to Get LinkedIn Connection Requests Accepted

Dave Delaney

Have you ever sent a connection request on LinkedIn and not had it accepted? Not being accepted can happen for a few reasons, like the person doesn't remember you or you're missing a profile photo. 

I am certain you frequently receive connection requests from strangers like I do. Your parents taught you not to talk to strangers, so it makes sense that you ignore the requests. I recently wrote a post about how I handle requests from people I don’t know. In this post, I will teach you how to send requests that get accepted.

If you want to have your connection request accepted, you need to consider a few things. The person may not use LinkedIn frequently, so sending the request through LinkedIn is often not the best first move.

I always email the contact before I send them the connection request. In the email, I remind him who I am and how we met. Perhaps we met at a networking mixer or a conference. I use his email from his business card, or I go to his site to find his contact information.

I write a follow-up email within 24 hours of the conference, so I am still fresh in people's minds. It doesn’t take long for people to forget who you are, unless you left an impressive impression.

In closing the message, I add that I am going to send him a connection request on LinkedIn. I explain that I am happy to provide him with an introduction to someone in my network should he need it. How’s that for value? Isn’t this better than just blindly sending a request to connect?

After I send the email, I send the connection request via LinkedIn. I always avoid sending the default connection request. I send a personal message and refer back to the email. I will write something like, “Hi John. It was a pleasure meeting you at XYZ Conference. Let’s connect on LinkedIn please. If I can provide you with an intro to one of my connections, let me know. Cheers, Dave.

I always include my business URL in the signature on LinkedIn, so he can visit to learn more about my services.

LinkedIn: Now boasting more than 360 million users.

If John does not accept my request after a couple of weeks, I will reassess. I will ask myself why I wanted to connect in the first place. Obviously, networking is key with LinkedIn. John could provide me with an introduction to help my business or career. Perhaps John isn’t that active on LinkedIn. It’s OK, because I still have his email address and can follow up that way.

One of the best ways to grow and nurture your professional network is by using LinkedIn. Now boasting more than 360 million users and a new user every two seconds, it’s clear that LinkedIn really is the professional social network. It makes sense to do everything you can to get connection requests accepted, so you can grow your network.

Happy networking.

Photo from Flickr by Alessandro Valli liquene

How to Reinvent Yourself

Dave Delaney

In a study a few months ago, and research firm, Harris Interactive, found that 21% of full-time employees wanted to change their jobs last year. A typical U.S. employee stays in their job for 4.6 years.

Staying at the same company for the rest of your life is no longer likely. Changes can occur for many reasons. You could be the victim of a layoff or your employer could go out of business. Perhaps the time has come for you to choose to leave your job, because you are no longer satisfied. Maybe you're bored and ready for a new career in an area you are truly passionate about. As we change careers, we face an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.

Dorie Clark is a strategy consultant, speaker, and contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Clark is also the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future and the new, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. I spoke with her in episode fifty of my podcast, New Business Networking Radio, where she shared helpful advice if you are preparing for career reinvention.

How to Reinvent Yourself

The most important thing is to get clear on your own narrative and to express it to your network. Clark stressed, if you don't explain why you're embarking on a transition, people could assume the worst, like you are going through a mid-life crisis or you are not loyal.

Highlight the strengths you have gained from your employer or career to this point. Share how your knowledge will add value in your new career direction. By doing this, your network will become your ambassadors and will help lead you to your new employer, customers and clients.

In my interview with Clark, she provided helpful insight in sharing your new transition when attending networking events. She pointed out that some people may object or "block" your new career path. For example, you may plan to move from sales to human resources. Someone may rebuke your decision and ask how you can possibly shift your career from two completely different areas. It's up to you to explain how you learned so much about people from sales and that you can bring that unique expertise to benefit human resources. You need to prepare to provide the answers to clearly explain your move.

A wonderful way to help you share your story is in content creation. This could come in the form of email newsletters, blog posts and articles. Clark stressed the importance of inbound marketing for your personal brand. That's why I launched Futureforth, to help you with this.

Read and become knowledgeable in your new career area. Write about what you learn publicly and be sure it is valuable to your readers. Share it openly and over time people will seek you out. If you're considering a career pivot, now is the time to start a blog (here's my tutorial to help you).

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

Monetizing Social Media with Rory Vaden

Dave Delaney

Have you wondered how to earn more money using social media marketing? Did you know that social media is the key to online business networking? Do you want to save time using social media? I answer these questions and more in the audio file below. 

I am thrilled to share my interview with New York Times best-selling author, Rory Vaden. Rory recently had me as a guest on his podcast, The Rory Vaden Show

Rory is the author of Take The Stairs and his most recent book, Procrastinate on Purpose. Both are fantastic business books written for entrepreneurs. I highly recommend you check them both out. 

Press Play or Download Below

Let’s spend thirty minutes together. Press play or download the episode to listen on your commute or at the gym later. Be sure to subscribe to Rory’s excellent podcast too. 

Please leave a comment with your thoughts or questions about the interview.