11 Methods to Build a Brand at In-Person Events

Personal Branding
Team Work
How are you building your personal brand at in-person events?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Be Yourself and Be Curious

“First, as the cliche goes, be yourself! It’s the most comfortable you. Second, be curious. I love asking questions and using fellow entrepreneurs as sounding boards for potential collaborations and future business. When you’re surrounded by smart people, use your resources to come up with mutually beneficial ways to work together. Reciprocal altruism, people! It makes people want to work with you.”

Samantha FishbeinBetches LLC

2. Read Up on the Event

“My colleagues and I read up on the event before we attend to be knowledgeable about the event itself and the people who will be in attendance. We try to make our branding memorable. We are consistently finding new ways to make our business cards eye-catching so they grab people’s attention and interest.”

Bryanne Lawless, BLND Public Relations

3. Invest in Authentic Relationships

“Avoid turning networking into an algorithm, and invest the time and emotional effort to transform a business card into an authentic relationship. Oftentimes, it’s the people who I genuinely enjoy spending time with who end up coming through with a helpful business development lead or connecting me to a useful resource down the line.”

Kelley Weaver, Melrose PR

4. Tell Your Story

“Storytelling: Everyone loves good stories, and can naturally relate to them easier than outright self-promotion or highlighting your latest success. It’s more about how you arrived at success than the actual success. Be consistent with your story, and always be yourself. Fluff will quickly deteriorate a personal brand image and, ultimately, future business opportunities.”

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

5. Genuinely Listen to People

“In today’s world where we used to do multitasking while chatting with friends and colleagues, it is hard to be present in an in-person conversation. We have the tendency to lose interest in what the other person is saying if it is not relevant to us. The most important thing that I do during an in-person meeting is to genuinely listen to people I meet and just be present in the conversation.”

Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.

6. Stop Imitating Others

“Most events are full of people who are copies of one another. Develop your personal brand by dressing differently, and have ideas of your own to talk about. Stop imitating others and develop confidence in your own approach. Ask yourself who you really are. That authenticity is what establishes genuine brands like Gary Vaynerchuk wearing sweatbands or Dave Asprey wearing blue-blocking glasses.”

Matt WilsonUnder30Experiences

7. Speak at Events

“I attend conferences related to my industry, which I believe is the most important out-of-office activity to improve your personal brand. I consider the best way to help build this is by being a keynote speaker at many events, or alternatively just as effective is setting up a company booth. The latter enables me to interact with various people, and at the same time helping me get recognized.”

Luigi Wewege, Vivier Group

8. Focus on Why You’re There

“I catch myself wanting to help everyone, all the time. My suggestion: Don’t do it! Stay in your lane and focus on why you’re at the event. If it’s to network, be a ninja and do the following: One, find out if the person you’re meeting is the right person for you to meet. Two, shake hands. Three, determine if there is a win-win that can be created and follow up with a video. Yes, a video: It works.”

Abhi Golhar, Real Estate Deal Talk

9. Talk With the Host

“I introduce myself to the host and ask them if there are any people in the room they suggest I meet. Doing so allows me to quickly identify the few people in the room that really matter to me and my business, and gets me a warm introduction.”

Christopher Kelly, Convene 

10. Offer a Helping Hand

“In networking situations, single-mindedly pushing our own agenda can often feel inauthentic and pushy. I’ve found — for me — a more “on-brand” strategy is to offer assistance. Even when networking with high-profile individuals in tech and entertainment, I’ve discovered surprising outcomes from offering help, from reciprocal offers of business deals to stays in European castles.”

Cooper Harris, Klickly

11. Afterward, Connect on Facebook Instead of LinkedIn

“I found connecting on Facebook instead of LinkedIn to be much more effective in growing your personal brand and building the relationship after the in-person networking event. I really like how the next time I see them I can bring up how their vacation was or their kids birthday looked like a lot of fun. This is a much easier way to build a relationship.”

Alex Chamberlain, EasyLiving