Aside from learning new things and being exposed to different perspectives, a huge advantage to attending business conferences is being able to meet a wide diversity of likeminded people you would not otherwise cross paths with. Depending on the size and magnitude of the event, professionals from different seniorities from all over the world take the opportunity to gather in one place to share ideas and be inspired.
If you are new to conferences, attending them alone can be daunting but the benefits are long-lasting. From building confidence, to marketing your services and establishing relationships with a colourful spectrum of professionals, conference networking is a crucial skill for the agile modern worker.
Here is our advice on how to successfully build relationships at industry events:
Preparing for the conference
- As the saying goes, preparation is key. Like you would prepare yourself before meeting someone new for a job interview, reflecting on what your goals are and how you will go about achieving them at a conference before going is important for organisation.
- Research attendees and speakers, as well as any exhibitors, and consider what topics you would like to know more about in relation to them.
- Take note also as to where attendees are most likely to use as a social area, such as any cafeterias or exhibition halls.
- If you have business cards, be sure that they have up-to-date contact details and that you don’t forget to take them with you!
During the conference
- When talking to someone new, take mental notes of key details on the individual’s professional background, offerings and any casual facts about them, such as personal interests. Later on, write down a brief profile of this person for future reference, along with their contact details if you have them.
- Don’t just go after the ‘important’ names – dedicate time to mingle with people from smaller companies and start-ups, as any perspective from younger players can prove useful and innovative.
After the conference
- This is the time to leverage LinkedIn; solidify your connections by adding people to your online network, sending them a brief personalised message along with your invite.
- When fitting, don’t hesitate to invite them to a discussion over coffee not too long after the conference. According to a study by the Harvard Review, 95% of people say face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term business relationships.
Conferences are expensive and time consuming, but can reap great rewards. Having hesitations asking your managers to pay for a ticket? Click here to read how to convince your boss to invest in your personal development. Similarly, for further networking advice, click here.