In the business realm, conferences are some of the most important events for professionals to meet and connect with each other. These events are not only for showcasing the trends and innovations of the industry but present an opportunity for professionals to advance their careers and build on their social resume. Not every conference can conveniently make networking easy, and there are strategies that can be missed when trying to maximize your experience at these events. Regardless of the industry, your career can benefit from having these networking strategies applied. Here are several tips you can utilize at business conferences to network and make successful connections with other attendees.
Create a Networking Action List
Coming into a business conference without a plan can lead you to forget the most important tasks you want to do during the event. Before you head into the event, make sure to create a list of attendees and mark off who you want to talk to. Your list can also include the actionable goals you want to achieve during the conference. In addition, you may have an interest in promoting your products or business as well. If this is your goal, then adjust your contact list to include the right people to help market your product.
Bring the Necessary Materials
Whether you are networking or meeting people, tangible, physical items can be valuable to help you convey your point. Having materials is especially important if you are expected to be among the keynote speakers or presenters at the conference. It is easy to be part of the crowd when it comes to presentations, as any company can have pens, memo pads, or key rings to use as accessories. If you are giving prizes or giveaways to potential guests, then think creatively and use more dynamic ideas. One example is to have a flash drive that contains your company’s materials, including presentations that allow guests to interact with your products and services. The more creative these giveaways are, the better an impression you make on the people you meet.
Food and Guests
If you are hosting an event or attending a conference where there is a dinner, then consider the seating arrangements. Try to ask if there is an available seat on the table of the specific person or group of people you want to connect with. Another strategy you can try is to invite specific attendees to a table reserved in advance. Eating together can be a great opportunity to build a strong rapport, so make plans in advance to get in touch with them early.
Have Backup Plans
It is impossible to make adequate contact with every person at a conference. Chances are if someone is influential enough to be a big factor in your career, then they will be sought after by other professionals as well. These people may be too busy talking to their own circles and many other conference guests for you to get a chance to connect with them. Have a plan in place to reach out to those individuals through other networks outside of the conference.
Create Follow-Up Plans
The period after initially meeting someone is a critical moment in the networking process. Make it a priority to follow up with guests and conference attendees within a week after the event. You can send a quick email to remind your contacts of the event and what you discussed. In addition, you can set up plans for the next event or send them your website, online portfolio, etc. The sooner you offer another opportunity to connect, the more you can build off of your initial meeting.
The networking experience can be intimidating and challenging, but leveraging this ability can further elevate your business career and create meaningful connections for your success. So much so that a post on How to Add Your Resume on LinkedIn highlights how important it is to advertise one’s self and this is true whether in conferences or on social media platforms.
Business conferences provide ample opportunities to connect with other professionals and give your career an opportunity to expand. By following these tips, you can maximize your efforts to build connections and add value to your career as all as that of others.