The 7 Best Tips for Networking at Conferences

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These networking tips are based on Shepa Learning Company’s conference keynote, Leap Start™

1. Look at your business cards, do they need to be updated?  Should you put your LinkedIn address, or your Twitter information on your card?  Do you have enough cards?  What’s enough?  If you are attending a conference bring a box – 250 cards. Our motto: “You can never have too many cards, only too few.”

2. Put your business cards in your carry-on luggage. There may not be a 24 hour Kinkos where you are going if your luggage gets lost!

3. Review the conference program in detail.  First reason: you want to maximize your time and go to the best sessions.  It’s a good idea to learn about the speakers ahead of time as you may want to connect with them.  Second reason: you’ll want to make sure you bring the right clothes.  Is there a gala?  A boat cruise?  Other activities that require special attire?

4. If you’ve attended this conference before, look at the business cards that you have received.  Do you want to reconnect with some of the people who will probably be attending again?  Send them an email and set up a time to meet at the conference. Get on Twitter and send a message.  Maybe go to your LinkedIn network.  If the conference has a social media site where attendees can comment prior to the event, add your input.

5. If you see someone in the hotel elevator wearing the same conference tag, start a conversation with them. “Did you hear _____ speak?’  ”What do you think of the conference so far?”  And, introduce yourself.

6. Step out of your comfort zone: sit with people you don’t know, talk to people you don’t know, rescue wallflowers and be a connector.

7. Try (really try!) to not get on your iPhone or Blackberry during breaks and use that time to meet real, live people.  Here is a link that could help with ‘networking nervosus.’

BONUS TIP! - FROM WEEKLY POSITIVE NETWORKING® TIP +

 WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MEET PEOPLE AT A CONFERENCE?

One of the most powerful ways to meet people at a conference is to ask a question in front of a large group during a speaker event. You have a golden opportunity to introduce yourself, not to one, two or seven people, but to hundreds. Here’s a story from Work the Pond! that explains what we mean.

“I first recognized this power of asking questions during a session at a conference in Singapore. Before a group of six hundred people, I stood up during the “Q&A” session to ask a question of the prime minister. I introduced myself—my name, organization and country—and asked my question. Later, at the day’s luncheon, as I walked around the table and introduced myself (“I’m Darcy Rezac”), to my surprise, many people answered: “Yes, I know.” Several said they remembered me from the question session earlier. In the corridor, people nodded to me in recognition. What I realized is that when I stood up to ask that question, I introduced myself to six hundred people.”

Darcy Rezac

Excerpt from Work The Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking in Work and Life (Penguin Prentice Hall)

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About Gayle Hallgren-Rezac

Author of networking book Work the Pond!

One Response to The 7 Best Tips for Networking at Conferences

  1. Lisa June 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I never leave home without my business cards no matter where I go. Don’t forget to stop and the exhibitor booths as well. It is a great way to connect with people as well.

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