Business conferences are a great place to network. But what if you aren’t sure how it’s done? Here are just a few ways to put yourself out there and make some contacts.
1. Give Yourself a Goal
Instead of having a vague plan like “meet lots of people,” try to give yourself an actionable goal where you can track and measure your progress throughout the event. For example, you might try to collect a certain number of business cards each night.
2. Prepare Yourself for Relevant Conversations
What’s happening in your industry? What has people talking? Brush up on these topics before the conference. You’ll want to be able to contribute to conversations in an intelligent, meaningful way, especially if you’re trying to impress bosses and bigwigs. Don’t let yourself get caught flat-footed in terms of conversation.
3. Stay Close By
If the conference is being held in a hotel, rent a room from the same place. If the expo is being hosted in a ballroom, make sure that your lodging isn’t far away. You don’t want to miss any of the action because you have a long commute and are forced to bail out early.
4. Diversify Your Rolodex
Don’t talk to the same people every night. Branch out to others, including those who aren’t in your industry. You never know when a contact in another field might come in handy, especially if it’s a similar or adjacent field. For example, if you work with hazardous waste, chemical analysis companies might have valuable friendships to offer you.
5. Get on Social Media
Social media is an incredible tool for the modern-day networker. Post pictures with other people at the event; include their names in updates and hashtags; make positive comments about the conference. Let other people find you in the same way that you’re finding them.
These are just a few tips for networking at your next business conference. As you can see, it’s a bit more complicated than just making small talk with people, so be prepared to put in some work!