5 Networking Tips for your Next Trade Show or Conference
Industry events are a ripe opportunity to help build your career in a variety of ways – from expanding your network to finding new business, learning about the industry and identifying potential mentors. Now that some industry events are beginning to happen in person again, it may be time to brush up on your conference networking strategies. There are a few things you can do before, during and after a show to get the most out of each event. Following are a few ideas.
- Before you go, do some research. Take some time before the event to find out who is speaking, exhibiting and attending. Check out the lineup of keynotes, educational sessions and social gatherings and create an agenda for yourself that prioritizes the events you most want to attend and the people you most want to meet. Bring business cards or save your own information as a contact in your phone so you can easily text it to people you meet as an alternative to trading business cards.
- Use social media strategically. Find out what the conference’s social media hashtag is and search it to see what others are saying. Do some of your own social media legwork prior to the event by tagging people you hope to talk to and highlighting events you plan to attend. Keep your profile high during the conference by posting notes about interesting things you’ve learned at sessions or social events.
- Know how to get into a conversation, and out of one. Having a few questions or topics at the ready can help you break the ice when introducing yourself to someone. Some ideas include: “Where are you from?” “What has been your favorite session so far?” or “What other conferences are you attending this year?” Just as important is knowing how to get out of a conversation so you have plenty of time to meet with other people. Some ideas include: “It was nice talking to you! Enjoy the rest of your conference.” “Do you have a business card?” or “Let’s get coffee next week.”
- Be approachable. Don’t get lost in your phone or device in the conference hallways between sessions. Circulate, look up, make eye contact and act engaged so that others who are looking to network will feel comfortable approaching you.
- Follow up. Don’t let all your preparation and work fizzle out when the show is over. Be sure to reach out to valuable contacts you’ve made with an email or by connecting on social media. Be sure to remind them who you are and thank them for their time at the event.