Events and conferences are increasingly shifting back to in-person gatherings, ideally an opportunity to expand professional networks and build new relationships. If you’re excited to network but feel a bit rusty, below are a few tips to make the most of these events.
- Have a purpose: Determine your goals for attending the event, such as connecting with existing clients, meeting prospects or learning about industry trends.
- Do your homework: Scan the attendee list and identify people you want to meet. Review their bios and company news and consider relevant insights to share or common interests. If an attendee list isn’t available, use conference hashtags on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find out who else is attending.
- Plan ahead: Reach out in advance to schedule when and where to meet your contacts. Sit with each other during a meal, plan for yoga before breakfast, take a walk during a break or meet for coffee or a drink. Be intentional with your time to maximize connecting with as many people as possible.
- Be memorable: Be ready to communicate who you are and what you do in a few compelling and succinct sentences. Use a story or anecdote to illustrate your unique strengths and skills.
- Listen with intent: Listen more than you talk and ask thoughtful questions that show you are engaged and interested in the conversation. This is an opportunity to disconnect from phones and screens and be present in the moment.
- Make introductions: This is also an opportunity to help others expand their networks. As you meet new people and learn about them, consider complementary introductions you can make to your other contacts at the event. It’s gratifying to connect people who hit it off!
- Own the next steps: Block out time on your calendar to reach out to your contacts within a few days of the event and reference or follow up on something you discussed. It takes seven to nine meaningful touchpoints to establish rapport with someone who will consider doing business with you, so develop a plan to stay in touch.