One of the great ways to stay up-to-date within your market is by attending industry-specific conferences. While attending your next upcoming conference event, don’t overlook the networking opportunities present. Effectively engage your target audience by using some of the following tips to become an awesome networker.
Create a list of prospects before the event. Generate a list of people you’d like to connect with before arriving at the conference location. This step gives you time to prepare. Prior knowledge of mutual connections or common interests can be helpful in leading to an engaging introduction.
Stay at the event venue hotel. Don’t miss out on any networking opportunities in your commute traveling back and forth from the conference venue and your hotel. Hang around after sessions and make sure you leave your room early, to give you additional extra time to network.
Get social! Attend all organized social events on the conference agenda. Some of the best connections can be made at the hotel bar – before, during, and even after planned networking events. Even if you aren’t a drinker, make sure to spend some time hanging out in the hotel bar.
Practice selling yourself – in under 30 seconds. Where are you from? What do you do? What are some interesting or memorable facts about yourself? Create a 30-second self-pitch using this information, to ensure that whoever you are introducing yourself to will gain a clear picture of who you are. This will help them remember you, because your introduction was short, clever, and memorable.
Be armed with your business cards at all times. Keep business cards on you at all times. Keep them in your pocket, in your laptop bag, and in your carry-on bag. Don’t forget that places like airport lounges, rental car counters, and even baggage carousels can present you with a networking opportunity.
Be confident. You aren’t going to be the only person seeking out networking opportunities, so make sure to stand out by making good eye contact, being pleasant, and smiling. First impressions are important, and even if you aren’t outgoing, at least fake a little enthusiasm in making connections.
Don’t brag or boast. Regular conference attendees know how to spot them – the person who constantly tells everyone how wonderfully amazing they are. Make sure to show a genuine interest in everyone you meet, and listen to what they have to say. Take the time to forge a true connection, not a meaningless quick introduction and business card exchange that won’t lead anywhere.
Follow up with everyone. As soon as you get back to your office, make sure to reach out! Send out an email right away, and nail down a time to speak to them in more detail as-soon-as-possible. You are more likely to get a commitment for a phone call or meeting right after a conference than after a few weeks have passed.
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