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  • Writer's pictureHannah Rodosky

How to Network at Conferences: Top 10 Tips to Improve Business Networking


How to Network at Conferences: Top 10 Tips to Improve Business Networking on Media Intercept

Networking is a critical part of any person's career. If you're not networking, you're missing out on potential opportunities that are right in front of you. The key to be successful lies in understanding how to approach people and make a connection—a skill that can be learned with practice. If you follow these 10 tips, you'll be well on your way to becoming an expert networker:


1. Have a Networking Goal


The first step to networking is defining your goal. Before you arrive, decide what you want to achieve by attending the conference, meeting new people, and connecting with old contacts.


Examples of networking goals include:

  • Connecting with decision makers at companies of potential interest.

  • Learning more about a specific industry or company.

  • Meeting peers who work in your field.

Be ambitious but stay realistic; it's better to not set too large a goal than set one that is too easy! And don’t worry about what other people's goals are; focus on yours. You don't want to waste any time trying to meet someone else's objectives, as this can be very distracting during an event where there are many urgent tasks competing for attention.


2. Do Your Research


Before your trip, do some research on the conference and its speakers. Check out their websites and social media channels, as well as those of sponsors and exhibitors. This will help you get excited about the event and give you something to talk about in person.


For example, if one of the speakers is an author who has written several books that relate to your field, you can mention this when chatting with them after their talk or during an interview.


3. Arrive Early


Arriving early is the best way to get a head start on networking at conferences. It gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to others, put your name on the map, and set the tone for how other people will perceive you throughout the conference.


4. Set the Tone With a Positive Introduction


One of the biggest mistakes people make when networking at conferences is waiting until it's too late to get involved in conversations and activities. When this happens, many people feel like they missed out on something valuable because there were already established cliques or the other attendees had already become burnt out from new conversations.

  • Get to know your fellow conference-goers by introducing yourself and asking them about their interests, hobbies, family and business.

  • Ask about their company and what they do.

  • Ask about their conference experience.


5. Resist the Urge to Talk About Business at First


Avoid starting a conversation with business talk. This may be difficult because you are at a conference and you want to network with people who can help your career. However, if it's obvious that this is your only objective for connection it's going to make it hard for other people to relate with you and trust you.


Instead, show that you are interested in them as an individual person as well as their business or company. When there is an opportunity where both parties have something they could use from each other (e.g., after someone asks: “What do you do?”), then yes, feel free to explain what kind of work/services/products etcetera that your entity provides.


6. Create Lasting Connections With a Follow Up

  • Do your research.

  • Follow up with a personal note (or two).

  • Follow up with an email.

  • Follow up with a LinkedIn connection.


7. Embrace Contacts Outside of Your Comfort Zone


You may be a little nervous when it comes to approaching new people, but don't let that stop you from making connections with others. If someone catches your eye, introduce yourself and ask them about themselves. It's important to remember that everyone benefits from connecting with other professionals in the industry, so don't be afraid to reach out to people who seem interesting or inspiring.


8. Be Confident, but Not Cocky


Confidence is key to a successful business networking experience. You’re probably thinking, “That sounds obvious!” But it’s easy to go from confident to cocky very quickly when you’re negotiating business deals and trying to get other people on board with your ideas or products. You don't want them to think that you don't respect their time or expertise, so make your point but don't over do it. You can always include sources to back up your claims in your follow up after the conference.


9. Avoid Being Late to Sessions and Meetings


Being late is unprofessional and disrespectful. This behavior is never a good way to make a positive first impression on someone new.


10. Make Sure You Have Business Cards!


If you’re going to a conference, it's a good idea to have business cards with you. They're the perfect way to introduce yourself and your company, and they'll make the exchange of information easier for other people who are networking with you.


If you don't have any business cards yet, create them now! These tips will help:

  • Make them clean and easy-to-read.

  • Make sure that your name is legible at first glance so people can recognize it after the conference in their inbox or on LinkedIn.

  • Make sure that all contact information is clear—including social media links!


Conclusion

The ability to effectively network is an important skill in business that can be learned and improved upon. We hope that these tips will help you to be more successful at the next conference or networking event you go to. Good luck!

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