Is your heart set on leadership or entrepreneurship? If you answered “yes,” then your eyes should be set on networking. While technology has simultaneously managed to make the world bigger and smaller, power still remains in the impact of a face-to-face interaction.
In-person engagement ranges from a personal conversation to sitting in a session and learning from a real person. More and more, conferences are diversifying their formats to reach attendees on all levels.
Companies are sending employees to conferences to not only learn and network, but to leave transformed and inspired with a vision for how to improve their business. MADE wants to help you maximize your time at conferences with this list of four practices to follow.
- Follow Official Social Media
This may seem like a no-brainer in the Digital Age, but following a conference’s social media is key. It is an easy way to learn what will take place at the conference without having to trudge through an entire website or official brochure. It is also a sure way to learn about key panelists, speakers, presenters and sponsors you may want to connect with. Follow those people too! You never know if a post will resonate with you directly and provide a way to spark conversation with someone before the conference. Finally, pay attention to who else is following the conference social media. You may find a mutual friend that you can meet up with at the conference and ultimately make the experience more sociable and memorable.
- Request Advanced Onsite Informal Meetups
If you are truly set on leadership, commit to learning from others doing it. It may seem daunting, but you have to seek advice from those who are in positions you aim to be in. Start with one person at the next conference you attend. Pick someone you naturally have a lot in common with and you can see yourself sparking up genuine and lasting conversation with. Then, email that person before the conference! Think of how busy they will be during the conference; it’s almost rude to ask them to change their plans in real-time just to speak with you. Instead, ask them at least a month in advance if you can treat them to coffee, lunch, happy hour, or dinner during the conference. Be sure to suggest a location at the host hotel or convention center in order to make the outing as seamless and convenient as possible. Even if they decline, you can follow up and request a conference call or future meeting.
- Plan To Power Network
Whether you are attending a small or large conference, understand that everyone is on a mission to learn and network. There will be people and sessions that you simply miss. That is why it is important to identify the people and takeaways that are most important to you in advance. Do not expect to go into a room and “wing it” with everyone you come across. It will be evident that you are not genuine or prepared. Instead, make a list of 10 people you want to speak with and 3 questions you want to ask each of them. Even if you just get to one of those people, at least it will be an intentional and impactful conversation and an opportunity to keep that conversation going after the conference. Power Networking is not about how many people you can meet but how many relationships you can grow.
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