Networking is a fantastic way for people to build professional ties and enhance their job chances. Conferences help build professional networks and connect with like-minded people in the field.
Attending industry conferences can allow you to learn more about networking and hone your networking skills. Because there are so many conferences, knowing how to make the most of your time is crucial if you take time off from work to attend one.
Fortunately, several networking hints are available to help you smooth down the rough edges over time. Before your next major event, have a look at this list and discover how to network effectively.
Why You Should Network During a Conference Without Being Awkward?
Conferencing may be a scary thing. They are big and noisy, and you are expected to mingle with hundreds or thousands of strangers while you are there.
But remember, the other attendees share the same motive. Conferences and other big events aren’t places where people just wander about aimlessly. They attend to network, interact with brands and professionals, and pick up fresh information.
Even if they are the industry expert, keynote speaker, or all-powerful deity, they once stood where you do. Don’t exploit the notables’ extraordinary qualities as a pretext to disappear into the background.
Make a commitment to making the most of your attendance at the conference and your admission cost. Remember that you went to that conference because you wanted to learn something from it (be it connections or learning).
Don’t let that niggling dread prevent you from achieving your objectives.
What Are the Networking Skills You Need?
Communication: The sharing of ideas between people is known as communication. It enables you to apply the appropriate tone so that the other person responds. This ability enables you to convey your message clearly and successfully when networking with others. Whatever kind of communication you choose, it’s imperative to pay attention to the details.
Active listening: Concentrating on what the speaker is saying and giving thoughtful feedback to their message is known as active listening. Because you demonstrate respect for others and comprehend their message by listening to them, it is a crucial ability for expanding your network.
Smiling, making eye contact, and employing other nonverbal clues are all examples of active listening abilities demonstrating that you are paying attention to the speaker.
Public speaking skills: You might talk to many individuals during networking events to form connections. Excellent public speaking abilities are needed for this. Having better communication skills in public speaking will make it easier for others to understand what you are saying.
Social skills: Social skills are those that call for you to communicate with people in both a personal and professional setting. These consist of spoken words, body language, appearance, and visual clues. You can develop and nurture long-term relationships by reaching out to new individuals and scheduling after-hours meetings with coworkers.
Emailing skills: Email is still the preferred method for most organizations to communicate professionally, even in the age of social media. But for recipients to read and respond to your email, some regulations must be followed. To establish a long-lasting business relationship, write brief, accurate, and succinct emails.
Empathy: Understanding another person’s feelings and mental condition is known as empathy. People want to share their emotions and experiences with empathic people; hence it is a crucial networking skill. You can improve your networking skills by posing pertinent questions and approaching an issue from the perspective of others.
Positivity: People frequently like to interact with those who present a positive attitude and are friendly. You may build a good rapport, come across as nice and memorable, and maintain a positive attitude and viewpoint about everything. Building strong relationships in the office and outside of it becomes simpler as people naturally flock toward pleasant people.
How to Network Effectively at a Conference?
Have clear objectives and goals: These days, conferences often proceed at the “speed of social.” In other words, people are switching between conversations, meetings, and events quickly. In the flow of things, it is simple to become lost. Prior to the event, decide in detail the classes you want to attend, who you wish to meet, and what you want to learn.
Stay In The Same Hotel where the Conference is Being Held: There will probably be gatherings for networking, meals, and other activities there or close by. In addition, most of the panelists, speakers, etc. will also be staying there.
A “chance” encounter at the hotel lobby, fitness center, Starbucks, or wherever else can help “break the ice” and open up more chances for interaction later on in the conference.
Go Prepared: Do your homework and get ready far in advance if there are specific attendees, vendors, or speakers you plan to meet and speak with. Read their most recent book, blog articles, etc., and look up the most recent information on their business.
Join their Twitter accounts to follow and participate in conversations before, during, and after the conference.
Send an Email or Tweet Before the Event: Apply the same strategy described. Inform them that you value and are interested in their work and that you would like to take a few minutes at the conference to introduce yourself. Show them that you respect their time by making it obvious that you simply need a minute or two.
Avoid the Helicopter Approach: At conferences, I frequently witness people starting to approach someone they want to meet before stopping 5–10 feet away and entering “hover mode.” The potential presence of a stalker is the single thing that makes people the most anxious.
The person you intend to meet will probably already be planning their escape after spotting you in “hover” mode. Simply introduce yourself after finishing your approach.
Be Ready with Conversation Starters: Always have a few conversation starters on hand in case the conversation becomes “stuck” at any moment. Here are a few illustrations. How long have you been with (Fill In The Blank) company? Where were you before joining (Fill In The Blank) company?
What have been your favorite sessions/speakers thus far? Where are you from? What interested you in (Fill In The Blank) conference?
Be Approachable: Don’t use your phone, laptop, or tablet exclusively outside of conference sessions. You’ll increase the likelihood that someone else looking for someone to talk to will approach you if you move around and appear open and engaged. Knowing “how to network” and “when to network” are equally important skills.
Don’t be a “Fan-girl” or “Fan-guy: Don’t spend your entire conference attempting to connect with the presenters, authors, and other VIPs, even though it’s nice to meet them. You’ll lose a ton of other opportunities if you do that. Spend your time instead listening, learning, and engaging with people who share your interests and goals.
Create a Schedule: With respect to your interests and the goals of the conference, be aware of who is speaking, when, and where. The finest sessions rapidly fill up since you can’t be everywhere at once. You don’t want to pass up the chance to hear from or meet that “one” person during the session.
Use Social Media: While you’re at the conference, tweet or blog about it. Tag individuals you’ve met or hope to meet, and provide kind, encouraging remarks about their session, session topic, panels, and overall conference. Use the conference’s #hashtag at all times.
Check the Nametag: They usually supply name tags at conferences because it’s acceptable to do so if you want to find out who “that someone” is. For others to recognize you, make sure your name badge is visible.
At a conference, mingling with VIPs, presenters, etc., is allowed and likely one of the main reasons for tired eyes and painful necks by Day 2. Even so, just inquire if you’re unsure of their identity.
Be Open to People That Want to Meet You: Don’t enter the meeting with the mindset that your only purpose is to promote yourself or your agenda. You’ll be astonished by the incredible connections and opportunities that arise when you listen to others. If you plan to consume alcohol at networking events, please do so responsibly.
Get on the Lists for Conference Dinners, Meet-ups, and Parties: These are fantastic social chances. For information and specifics, speak with the conference organizer in advance.
Follow the conference hashtag and frequently check Eventbrite if it’s a big event, like SXSW, to make sure you’re aware of all the meet-ups, conference-related activities, etc., happening.
Keep in Mind Most People at the Conference Are in the Same Situation as You: In other words, they believe they won’t know many or any of the other participants when they arrive. Introduce yourself to the folks on each side of you during the various sessions and use the previously mentioned conversation starters.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the conference’s hashtag. You’ll quickly establish a “conference network” and go home with several new acquaintances.
Always Have An Exit Strategy: You’ll unavoidably find yourself in a conversation that you wish you hadn’t. Be prepared to gently and formally withdraw.
This serves more as an example of “how not” to meet someone at a conference. There are various approaches to take, but always be polite. After expressing gratitude for their time, kindly say goodbye.
Get The Conference App: You can find great social discovery apps that alert you when members of your networks are nearby. Many are often simple to set up and operate and offer a straightforward interface for saying hello.
You don’t want another app on your phone, do you? Simply follow the conference #hashtag on Twitter using a Twitter client like Tweet deck.
Don’t Forget the Tangible Items You’ll Need: Long conferences that last all day or well into the evening are not uncommon. When you’re meeting someone, not having breath mints, gum, eyedrops, a comb or brush, cologne, or perfume can ultimately ruin the relationship. Prepare and pack accordingly.
Bring Business Cards: One of the simplest, most efficient methods to introduce yourself and provide your contact information is with a business card. Add your Twitter handle and other social media information on your card if you prefer to connect online.
Giving someone your business card when you only have a few seconds to speak with them is always preferable to missing an opportunity.
Head to the Gym (and on-site Starbucks): Go to the hotel gym if working out is a regular part of your day. It’s a terrific location to network with other conference attendees outside of the formal setting of the event.
Don’t feel like hitting the gym? Another fantastic area to meet and interact is at the hotel’s or conference center’s Starbucks.
After the Conference, Follow up: Many of the people you’ve met should have given you their business cards. Send a brief email or Linkedin invitation highlighting a key takeaway from the talk and the appropriate follow-up suggestion (phone call, coffee or lunch, or simply “let’s remain in touch”).
If it makes sense, introduce the person to people you know well, especially if there are common interests and a chance of a meaningful connection.
Connect Socially: Keep in touch by connecting socially on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., and the follow-up suggested above. As you add someone as a friend, send them a brief message in which you remind them of who you are and express gratitude for their time.
How to Network at an Online Conference?
Use the Chat Function: You can start forming relationships with the other participants by introducing yourself in the conversation by giving your name, profession, and residence. This gives discussion starters and makes it simpler for people to get in touch with you during or after the call.
Virtual lobby: During and between the live sessions, organizers can support their attendees by facilitating networking and connections. Before participating in the live sessions, users can also view the agenda and the speaker profiles (which may include contact information).
Q&A sessions and live polls: In addition to providing input, participants in a live conference can engage in Q&A sessions with the panelists and connect with one another. This feature frequently encourages the participants to exchange ideas and share expertise.
Gamification: Running interactive contests is one of the most inventive ways to increase social interaction during web conferencing. There is an excellent chance to include amusing methods of running a cooperative online event. For instance, some event planners set up gamification in their virtual events to boost touchpoints for their attendees.
How Do Students Network at a Conference?
Actually, you should feel free and delighted to discuss this with nearly everyone you meet as a student. Even if most of them are useless to you, you still gain from them. Start with some worthwhile subjects, and then you can discuss nearly anything. Know your typical pastimes, etc.
First, you can make many friends, which one day may come in handy (for example, if you want to start any content creation program or promote your own business). You’ll then be able to speak without fear. Remember, even if you don’t speak, you will still have an experience. So go ahead and be brave.
Even though it can be frightening, networking at conferences doesn’t have to be. You’ll be able to move around the conference floor and make useful connections if you bear these suggestions in mind. Never forget that networking doesn’t have to interfere with your daily activities. Actually, it might be a fun experience in and of itself.
How have you found networking at events so far? Did someone you met there help you find employment? Would you mind sharing some of your suggested conversation starters for high flyers? Comment below with your ideas!