Conferences are a great way to share information, check the pulse of your industry and advance your personal development. December is the perfect time to set goals and to establish development plans. For many people those include attending conferences such as the MA Conference for Women which will host 10,000 women on December 10th. I’ve compiled the following tips for those seeking to increase networking effectiveness at conferences.
Ten Tips for Conference Networking
Establish Goals: What would be a good outcome for you by the end of the conference? What do you hope to achieve? With whom do you want to make connections?
Connect Early and Often: Use social media, business communications and your network to reach desired contacts. Send LinkedIn requests, emails, letters, note-cards and request introductions from friends and colleagues. Reach out before, during and after the conference.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated, as most business professionals will check you out on LinkedIn. Use a current professional headshot.
Expand Your Circle: In addition to strengthening existing relationships, be sure to include outreach to people you do not know well – people in other parts of your company, vendors, small business owners, speakers and colleagues in other locations.
Smile: This simple step will make you more approachable to others who are seeking to network. This also applies to online communications. Your tone and messages should always be friendly and warm.
Show Genuine Interest in Others: Asking questions is a great way to start the conversation once you’ve introduced yourself. For example: “What is your role? What are you hoping to gain from the conference?”
Give Generously: As you engage with others, think of ways you can be helpful. Only commit to things that you are prepared to deliver. It is important that you build a strong brand with those in your network, so find ways to help others succeed.
Look for Alignment: Look for common ground as you network and listen to the stories of others. Identify opportunities for win-win collaborations or sharing of information before your share your business card.
Share Your Story: Your story should give people a sense of your authentic self in a way that differentiates you. Help people create memories of you. This is not the same as an elevator pitch; although it can include elements of your pitch. Think about what makes you special and interesting.
Keep Your Word: If you commit to contacting someone, do so. Use an app such as CamCard to scan your contacts into your smartphone. Make a note regarding the promises you make and be sure to follow-up. You want a to leave a positive brand impression with the people you meet.
Juliette Mayers is Founder and CEO of Inspiration Zone LLC (IZL) and author of The Guide to Strategic Networking: Dream. Plan. Create. Achieve. Available on Amazon.com and at www.juliettemayers.com Follow @jcmayers