As conference organisers we’re in the business of connecting delegates with peers from their industry. But often we see people attendees shy away from building their contacts and networking effectively.
So we put together this quick cheat sheet to look at before you attend your next conference.
- Do your homework. Do your research and start networking before you get to the conference. Work out who the influences are and try to connect with them on websites like LinkedIn.
- Contact influential speakers or attendees to let them know that you look forward to hearing their presentation or meeting them at the conference. Making contact beforehand will make introducing yourself in person much easier.
- Introduce yourself at the conference. Take your business cards and introduce yourself, compliment a speaker on their presentation and ask any relevant questions. If you did step 2 in the run up to the event, this step will be a lot easier.
- Be ready to get to the point. Many influential people at conferences have limited time to chat and mingle, meaning you might not have long to talk to them. Think about your questions ahead of time and ensure they are relevant and timely; try to add some value to the conversation.
- Listen. When presented with an opportunity to network directly with a speaker or high profile delegate, be sure to listen well. Good networkers are also good listeners.
- Learn how to excuse yourself gracefully and be prepared to move on if there is someone more appropriate to spend your time with. It’s always a handy tool in networking.
- Make conversation with someone who is standing on their own. They’ll appreciate the company and they might just open up with valuable information.
- Follow up and stay in touch with the valuable contacts you’ve made. Don’t just chalk it up as two days out of the office. You never know when they might be a handy contact to know. Again, LinkedIn can be a handy tool here