By Pam Clark
How to Leverage Networking Opportunities
Attending conferences is a great way to forge new connections, strengthen existing relationships, and attract new business opportunities. Setting goals, pre-planning, and creating a strategy to implement at the conference can ensure you leverage your networking time as productively as possible. This blog discusses ways to make the most of networking opportunities at a convention.
Before You Get There
Identify your goals and objectives for attending the conference. Who do you want to meet? What sessions or workshops do you plan to attend? Are there any meet and greets, dinners, parties, or other socializing activities to schedule? The more pre-conference planning you do, the more successful you will be in achieving your goals.
Schedule in Advance
Start scheduling meetings in advance and plug in any workshops and events you plan to attend. If you plan to meet with existing clients, reach out in advance to schedule times to meet up at the conference. Be clear about your intention and time requirements.
If there are specific attendees you want to meet, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Introduce yourself and let them know you would love to meet with them briefly at the conference to introduce yourself. Be sensitive to their time constraints and clear that you only want to meet for a few minutes. During that time, you can decide if a more extended meeting (or a lunch or dinner) is of value.
Find out which hotel the conference will use to host networking events, dinners, and other activities and stay there. You’ll have a chance to network at the gym, in the coffee shop, the hotel lobby, and in other areas outside of the conference that can lead to opportunities for further engagement at the conference.
Bring lots of business cards, but remember that most people don’t want to carry around a bunch of marketing collateral, so if you plan to bring handouts, make sure they fit into a pocket. When you meet someone new, make a note on the back of their business card to remind you where you met them and how you will follow up with them after the show.
Use Social Media
Take pictures of yourself at the event, by the event signage, with people, and tweet or post about the conference while you’re there. If you attend any sessions, introduce yourself to the people you sit next to. You can tag people you’ve met and comment positively about their presentation, panels, and the conference. Remember to use the conference #hashtag.
Be a Good Listener
You never know who you are going to meet. Some of the best relationships and business opportunities are forged through the simple act of listening.
Stock Up On Non-negotiables
Put your best face forward. You’ll be on the go all day, so be sure to bring breath mints, gum, eye drops, a comb, etc., so you’ll look and smell fresh! Plan and pack accordingly.
Conference Follow up
After the conference, you’ll have lots of business cards from people you met. Be sure to circle back and follow up after the conference. This may entail a phone call, a meeting, or a simple thank you. Use social media to send a brief message with your friend request, reminding the person you are and thanking them for the time they spent speaking with you.
SERVPRO Convention in Dallas, Texas, July 5 – 9
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