Conferences are valuable opportunities to expand your knowledge and network. Unfortunately, they are opportunities that are too often squandered. Here’s how to make sure you form beneficial connections, not just a clutter of business cards in your briefcase:
1 Reach out to folks in advance. Do your homework. Who is speaking? What are the sessions and events? Tweet about your attendance. Send some emails to folks you know will be there. Reach out to attendees and presenters before they arrive for the best chance to get some face time.
2 Offer something of value. Relationships function on reciprocity. Individuals will be disposed to help you when you have helped them. Host a meetup. Volunteer for the conference. Through providing opportunities to others, they will see your leadership qualities and skills and be inclined to open a door for you as well.
3 Business cards: give and take. Most attendees know to bring plenty of cards to spread around, but if you only pass out your card, you give the decision about whether to continue contact to the other person. Make notes on the business cards you collect to remind yourself of any key details to jog your memory. You should always follow up with connections in the week after the conference. Connect on LinkedIn and include a personal message affirming how good it was to meet them.
Whether it’s an industry conference you look forward to annually, or a mandatory requirement for CEs, these tips will make the experience even more worthwhile. What conferences are you looking forward to this year? Join us on social media to share.