You Have 11 New Friend Requests - Easy Steps to Successful Conference Networking
... says an old African proverb. And a conference is a great place to find these others. In modern times, when traveling is easier than ever and communication with the other end of the world is just a matter of few taps on your phone's screen, networking is what brings progress. However, it is not an easy task and it makes many of us anxious. The reason - we simply don't know how to do it properly. We are going to share few hacks, that will help you meet many new people and establish meaningful connections.
There are many examples of successful collaborations that started as a mere chit-chat over a cup of coffee during the afternoon break of a conference and this is not surprising. A conference is a place, where all the people around share the same interests. There are no these awkward moments when we don't know what to talk about because the topic of the conference is always there to save us. When we look around, we see people coming from both similar and different backgrounds, but passionate at least about one thing we are passionate about too. The next few tips have been tried personally and guarantee successful networking and should always be implemented with your personal touch added.
Set a goal - What would you like to achieve through networking at this specific conference? Would you like to meet a certain person or find a partner for a project? Or anything else? A little bit of research beforehand will make your task much easier. Find out who is going to be at the conference. Learn a bit about them. Search for mutual connections. You can even reach out early and set a meeting. Trust us, the more you invest in preparation the better the results will be.
Focus on Quality over Quantity
Many people believe, that the purpose of networking is meeting as many people as possible. They rush giving around business cards or jump from conversation to conversation and end up dissolved in the mass of people. Instead, it a great deal better to identify few people you would like to talk to. Dedicate more time to them. This will create the bond you are looking for. A bond, that will later bear fruits.
- Remembering names - our biggest nightmare. How many times you have talked to a person for an hour, just to realize, you have no idea how are they called. Not because they never mentioned their name, but because you have forgotten it. Don't worry! There is an easy way to avoid this - repeat the name during the conversation - when asking questions for example.
Listen More - Talk Less
Start with breaking the ice - ask them how do they enjoy the conference, what topics have impressed them so far, and what are they looking forward to. Then keep the narrative going around them. We are all born a bit narcissistic and love talking about ourselves. Ask them what are they passionate about, their achievements, their goals. This will help you achieve two things at the same time - learn more about the person and make them feel closer to you. And this is already a serious step towards success.
Right after the conversation is over or not long after it write down the most important parts - what have you learned about the person, what else would you like to know, etc. This will help you later come back to them with the proper approach and will show them, you value them and what they have told you.
This will also help you with the next and probably one of the most important steps.
The follow-up has two parts and both are equally significant. The first is - tho get in touch within the next 24 hours to express appreciation for the conversation and the established contact. The second - if you are going to meet this person again - review your notes and impress with the fact, that you remember the information that was shared with you during the previous conversation. Once you have confirmed that you care about the person, you have a connection that is strong and will most probably be prolific.
There is no better place to try these networking hacks than a real conference. And some of the best possible choices are the conferences organized by SWS Society: