Ten Points On Conference Networking
1. Know what you want to learn from the conference. Most conferences have multiple tracks; try to focus on your most important goals.
2. Before the conference, identify other attendees in your breakout sessions. Learn about them and their companies via the Web and LinkedIn.
3. Set appointments in advance. Contact a few individuals who you have identified as having common interests and try to arrange to meet over coffee during the conference.
4. At the conference, focus on meeting attendees rather than the featured speakers. Attendees are likely the people who walk in your shoes and can provide you with practical ideas and support moving forward.
5. Be the first to engage other attendees at your table. Spend time asking open-ended and feel-good questions to first get to know them personally. People ultimately do business with people they know, like, and trust.
6. Always have your business card ready to exchange, and make notes about your conversations, right away, on their business cards. This will give you a frame of reference for contacting them after the conference is over.
7. Send follow-up notes and/or e-mails after the conference to continue the positive connection. Ask if they would like to continue the connection with you via LinkedIn.
8. Try to help your new colleagues. Listen for their concerns and challenges in their jobs and send them resources that you may have that can help them. Be the go-giver.
9. Be a connector. Actively listen, and try to introduce people who could provide benefit to each other. When you are a conduit who connects people in a helpful way, you are increasing your own value, and people will want to help you even more!
10. Ask your new contacts for resources and advice. People you meet at conferences can be a very valuable resource for the challenges that you face in your job. They are usually more than happy to offer best practices they have found in their work.