There is no doubt conferences offer fantastic opportunities for networking. However, they can become an overwhelming rush of presentations, conversation and potential meetups, so how do you know where to focus your time and to get the full benefit from the day?
We have put together some useful tips and tricks to help you make attending a conference that little bit easier and one of the best things you can do for your career.
#1: Be Prepared
Get comfortable talking about yourself and know what are the right questions to ask. This is very similar to preparing an elevator pitch. You should use the days prior to the event figuring out what you want to say to people. What are your goals of networking at the conference? What do you want to learn from other people?
After exchanging introductions, the most awkward moment is when you don’t know what to say next, and the two of you are just standing there… awkwardly… staring at the coffees you’re holding. To prevent this scenario, have a list of stock questions ready to go that can be applied to anyone.
Also a good tip is to make sure you have your phone and laptop chargers with you. You’re going to spend a huge part of your day on your device – don’t get caught with a dead battery.
#2: Connection Building
Go in with the intention of making several meaningful connections instead of trying to meet every person or impress the big names. If you do this correctly, you will leave the conference with a list of people with whom you can continue building strong business relationships. Ask yourself: “Who do I want to meet and why?” and you start the conversation from there.
Your first connection at an event is your gateway to meeting more people. Maybe they came with friends they can introduce you to, or maybe you’ll decide to break into bigger groups together. Whoever you approach first, relieve some of the awkwardness with informed, relevant conversation starters to get in the swing of things together.
Approaching a big or small group can be intimidating, but with the right approach, you can join in on an existing conversation or start your own successfully. Ease into the day by introducing yourself to one person who is also flying solo and looking for someone to talk to.
Read up on industry news and trends beforehand so you’ll be prepared to spark conversation and ask for their thoughts on topics that are interesting to both of you.
#3: Leveraging Social Media Channels
In today’s society, one of the best ways to make connections is through social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. These platforms are a great way to start the conversation before the actual event begins by using the hashtags that have been generated for the conference.
Tweet that you’re attending! If you’re a bit nervous about reaching out to other people on an individual basis, start by making it easy for other attendees to find you and reach out to you.
LinkedIn is a more formal platform so you may be more comfortable with using this channel to connect with other business professionals. You can use LinkedIn to learn more about people’s professional background and to see if you want to spend your time networking with them at the conference.
#4: Take Notes and Apply Key Learnings to Your Practise
With days full of speakers and sessions, there’s a lot to take in and you’re probably not going to remember all of it when you get home. So, collect your notes and information in a way that makes it easy to access when you return to the office.
Regardless of your note-taking format of choice (pen and paper, laptop, tablet, smartphone), at the end of each session you attend, write down the three key takeaways and any follow-up you want to do on the topic or with the speakers. This will help jog your memory and give you specific to-dos when you get back to work.
#5: The Follow Up
Connecting with people you met during the conference is best done in the days immediately following your return. Send follow-up notes and LinkedIn requests while the conference is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Include a personalised message to accompany your request on LinkedIn. Remember, everyone’s inbox will be flooded, so make yourself memorable by reminding your new connection what you discussed.
Want to put these tips and tricks into practice? Then join us at the 3XE Digital Social Media & Content Marketing Conference on Wednesday, May 11th.