Networking can be intimidating, especially at conference events where there are often hundreds or thousands of attendees. But making connections and networking at these events can be extremely valuable, both personally and professionally. In this blog, we’ll go over some tips for getting the most out of conference networking events and making the most of the connections you make.
First and foremost, it’s important to prepare beforehand. Research the conference and the attendees ahead of time, and identify any potential connections or people you would like to meet. Make a list of these individuals and try to find out as much as you can about them, including their job titles, companies, and any common interests or connections. This will help you strike up a conversation and make a more meaningful connection when you do meet.
It’s also a good idea to bring business cards with you to the conference. These can be helpful for quickly exchanging contact information with new connections and are a professional way to follow up after the event. If you don’t have business cards, consider creating a digital business card.
Making Connections at the Conference
Once you’re at the conference, be proactive in seeking out new connections. Attend sessions and workshops that align with your interests and goals, and engage with speakers and other attendees during breaks and networking events. This is a great opportunity to make connections with people in your field or industry, and you never know who you might meet.
One effective way to make connections at a conference is to join a group or start a conversation. This could be as simple as standing near a group of people, listening to their conversation, and then joining in when there is an opportunity to do so. Or, ask someone a question about their work or the conference itself as a way to start a conversation. Remember to be genuine and authentic, and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions or share your own experiences.
Here are a few icebreaker questions that you can use to start conversations at conference networking events:
- What brings you to this conference?
- What do you hope to get out of attending this conference?
- What do you do for work?
- What do you enjoy most about your work?
- What are your professional goals?
- Where are you from?
- What did you think about that session/speaker?
- Have you attended this conference before? What did you enjoy most about it?
- What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry right now?
Remember, the goal of icebreaker questions is to start a conversation and get to know someone, so try to ask open-ended questions that encourage discussion. And be sure to listen and pay attention to the person’s responses – it’s not just about getting your own words in!
Volunteering at the Conference
Another way to make connections at a conference is to volunteer. Many conferences have opportunities for attendees to volunteer their time, whether it’s helping with registration, manning the information desk, or assisting with logistics. Not only will volunteering give you the opportunity to meet new people, it will also show that you’re proactive and willing to get involved.
Following Up After the Event
It’s also important to follow up after the conference. This is where those business cards and digital business cards come in handy. If you made a connection with someone and exchanged contact information, make sure to follow up within a week or so after the conference. A simple email thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in staying in touch is a good start. If you made a strong connection, consider scheduling a phone call or meeting to further discuss your professional goals and how you might be able to help each other.
Networking Opportunities Outside of Sessions and Workshops
In addition to attending sessions and workshops, conference networking events often have social events or activities where attendees can connect with each other. These can be a great opportunity to make new connections and learn more about your industry or field. Some examples of networking opportunities outside of sessions and workshops include:
- Social events: Many conferences have social events such as cocktail parties, dinners, or networking receptions where attendees can mingle and connect with each other. These events can be a more relaxed and informal setting for making connections, so be sure to attend and engage with others.
- Interest groups and committees: Some conferences have groups or committees that focus on specific topics or industries. Joining one of these groups can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and learn more about your field.
- Networking activities: Some conferences organize specific networking activities, such as speed networking or roundtable discussions, where attendees can connect with each other in a structured setting. These can be a great opportunity to make new connections and have more focused conversations with others.
Conference networking events offer a variety of opportunities to connect with others outside of sessions and workshops. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can expand your network and make valuable connections that can benefit you both personally and professionally.
Additional Tips for Making the Most of Conference Networking Events:
- Dress appropriately: First impressions are important, so make sure to dress in business casual attire or something that is appropriate for the conference.
- Practice your elevator pitch: An elevator pitch is a brief, compelling summary of who you are and what you do. Having a clear and concise pitch can be helpful when introducing yourself to new connections.
- Be open to new opportunities: Conference networking events can be unpredictable, so be open to meeting new people and exploring new opportunities. You never know who you might meet or what connections they might have.
- Follow up with a LinkedIn request: LinkedIn is a great platform for connecting with professionals and staying in touch after a conference. Consider sending a LinkedIn request to any new connections you made at the event, and include a personalized message reminding them of your conversation.
Conference networking events can be a great opportunity to make new connections and advance your career. By preparing beforehand, being proactive at the conference, and following up after the event, you can make the most of these opportunities. Remember to be genuine and authentic, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or share your own experiences. With some effort and preparation, conference networking events can be a valuable and rewarding experience.
P.S. The Conference for Administrative Excellence is a great conference for networking and connecting with other professionals in your field. With a wide range of sessions, workshops, and social events, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make new connections and learn from industry leaders. We hope you’ll consider attending this conference and taking advantage of all it has to offer. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, learn new skills, or simply connect with others in your field, you’ll find something of value at this conference. We hope to see you there!
* Please note that we are not affiliated with any of the tools mentioned in this blog, including CamCard and Haystack. These tools were simply mentioned as examples and their inclusion should not be construed as an endorsement. We encourage you to do your own research and choose tools that are the best fit for your needs and budget.