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5 Networking Tips for Your Next Conference
Often it is a tough decision to decide whether to travel to a business or industry conference. You have to consider time away from your family and work and of course the cost of the conference and the travel. Wouldn't it be great to know you will see an immediate ROI on these efforts? Here are 5 tips to network efficiently at your next conference, and make it all worth it.
1. Rethink your breaks.
Most people spend the time in between speakers running to the ladies’/men's room or checking in with their office. But this is actually the best time to approach people to connect. Leave one of the sessions early to take care of other business and spend your breaks connecting with new folks instead. Bonus tip: Don't attend every session. Select one session to skip altogether and spend that time in the common area, lounge, or lobby opening dialogue with other attendees.
2. Take advantage of social media.
Before you get there, research whether there is a conference app. Be sure to download it, start using it and connecting with people before you arrive at the conference, during the conference and after the conference. Utilize any conference hashtags as well. If none exist, be sure to make a list of the speaker and company handles to use in your posts. Bonus tip: Create your own hashtag
3. Never retreat.
A whole day of information is exhausting. You might also have work to catch up on at night when the day sessions are over. However, never skip the receptions and never go back to your room and order room service. You are missing out on prime networking opportunities. Bonus tip: If there are no receptions or meals scheduled at night simply sit at the hotel bar and order dinner there. I guarantee others from the conference will do the same and you will still be able to meet new people.
4. Stand out with the speakers.
Instead of waiting in a group or line with many others after a talk, email the speakers afterwards and be specific about what you took away or enjoyed from their talk. Bonus tip: Connect with them on LinkedIn.
5. Sit in the first row.
Most people avoid the first row and many will purposefully sit in the back. The extroverts are the ones that tend to sit in the first row. Stay upfront to maximize your opportunities to connect. Bonus tip: Don't sit with someone from your own company.
In addition to these tips, be sure not to fall flat with the follow-up. Try to follow up right after the conference and reference something specific that was discussed. Following up is where most people really drop the ball.
Jennifer Lynn Robinson is the CEO of Purposeful Networking. She conducts keynotes, workshops and seminars assisting companies, non-profits, universities and conferences to help ensure your networking is working for you. Jennifer is also the President of FemCity Philadelphia, a women's business networking organization with 1800+ members. Jennifer is a contributor for The Huffington Post and has been highlighted in both local and national media. You can connect with her at @AreYouNetworked on Twitter or Instagram or at purposefulnetworking.com.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
How is your Networking working for you? Are you attending events and joining organizations that target your audience? How do you determine the ROI of your efforts? Are you building a lifetime network? Networking is still the best way to build relationships, grow your business or find your next job. I go into companies, non-profits, conferences and universities to conduct talks and workshops to help you maximize networking opportunities. I am extremely passionate about networking and helping others to... Continue Reading