Congrats on your success so far!
You’ve grafted, worked with incredible people, and now feel like you’re in a great place. But is that it?
No way! You’ve only just begun. And the best way to continue your incredible feat is by mingling with like-minded people so you can further advance your career.
Not sure how to start networking? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Follow these and you’ll smash the next conference!
1. Be Prepared
Before you dive into the next networking meeting, make sure you’re 100% ready.
If there are specific attendees, vendors, or industry experts expected to attend then do your research and prepare ahead of time. Devour their latest books, check out their blog, and search for the latest news on their company.
You could also connect with them on social media and engage with their relevant threads on Twitter, for example. Doing this ensures you make a lasting impression on them and shows you know your stuff.
If you’re still stuck, learn more about how to organise a conference so you understand the ins-and-outs of networking events.
2. Send an Email or Tweet Before the Event
A great way to show appreciation to certain speakers is by showing them love online. You should let them know you value their work and would like a chance to introduce yourself to the conference.
Avoid trying to schedule a lunch or dinner meeting on your first interaction. Instead, break the ice and have value in your intentions. Then, you’ll far more likely to succeed in your chance of securing a meeting.
3. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Linking to the previous point, you have to also know exactly how you want to convey your message.
So when people bombard you with “who are you?”, “what do you do?”, “Why are you at this conference?”, you won’t become overwhelmed and blank entirely.
You should also have clear goals and objectives so you don’t get lost in the flow of things. For example, know who you hope to meet and what you want to take away by the end of the event.
4. Show Up Early
Not sure how to network at a conference?
Show up before the crowds do. Be sure to stand near the registration table, entrance, or food area so you can mingle. Also, it’ll let you mingle with fellow early attendees who may be alone.
A good icebreaker is asking someone what they thought about a particular speaker or whose presentation was their favourite.
Also when you’re at the conference, try to approach sponsors and introduce yourself. You never know, something major like a book deal could come out of it.
5. Book a Hotel Near the Conference
Networking conferences often blossom to dinners and other activities that will be held nearby.
Contact the conference organizer ahead of time for details and if it’s a large event, follow the conference hashtag and check Eventbrite so you know which networking-related activities are taking place.
Also, note that many speakers or panelists will be staying at the hotel the conference is held or close.
You can have a “chance” meeting in the lobby, Starbucks, or even the gym where it will be easier to approach them and lead to further conversation at the conference.
6. Avoid the Helicopter Approach
Excited to start networking like a pro?
Then avoid hovering!
There have been cases when attendees are nervous and try to approach someone only to stop 5 to 10 feet away and turn on “hover mode.”
Nothing makes you more nervous than knowing there’s someone watching you from nearby. If you saw them in “hove mode”, then you’ll most likely be thinking how to leave ASAP.
To avoid being that person, just approach that person and introduce yourself!
7. Plan an Exit Strategy
Sometimes when you end up trapped in a conversation you wish you never started. If this happens, thank the person for their time and politely excuse yourself.
8. Come Equipped with Conversation Starters
It’s rare for conversations to flow continuously, sometimes they get stuck. Be prepared for moments like these with conversation starters, such as:
- How long you have been with [insert company name here]?
- I’m trying to improve [insert skill] – what are you doing, any tips?
- What interested you in this conference?
Doing this will make you sound interested in them (always good!) and you’ll never know how many valuable tidbits you’ll learn from this one interaction.
9. Be Approachable
Don’t spend the entire conference glued to your device. You should be circulating, looking open and engaged, so people are more likely to strike up a conversation.
10. Create a Schedule
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, make a timetable so you know who is speaking, where, and when depending on your conference objectives.
You can’t be everywhere at once and you don’t want to miss the chance to connect with that one speaker you’re hoping to meet or hear.
11. Harness the Power of Social Media
Head to Twitter during or after the conference and tag people you’ve met, along with positive comments about their session, topic, panels and the event itself. Be sure to use the conference #hashtag.
12. Bring Business Cards
Despite the rise of social media, business cards are still a valuable asset to carry with you.
It’s an effective way to introduce yourself and share contact information. If you do prefer social media, add your Twitter and Instagram handle.
And That’s How to Start Networking!
Before stressing out about how to start networking, cover the main details. Be prepared so you know the schedule, which speakers you’d love to meet, and what you want to get out of the conference. Is it tips for growing a business? Or connecting with certain people in the industry?
Use social media to thank conference organizers, speakers, and upload any pictures you may have from the event. The key is to remain calm, have fun, and learn throughout the day. Good luck!
Did you find this article helpful? Check out more posts on how to grow your business and thrive.