Some people may be born networking heroes, others may get chills only thinking about it.
The truth is, if you’re looking to get ahead, networking is the way to do it.
Here are 10 tips on how to get started.
- Prepare yourself:
If you register for one of our conferences, you will be able to see the full list of attendees and abstracts two weeks before the conference. This will give you insight in the different companies or institutes who are attending and a chance for you to do some research and prepare a few questions.
- Bring enough business cards:
Starting a conversation with someone is one thing, remembering everyone you talked to is another. To make sure people remember who you are and what you do is an asset and is easily fixed by handing them your business card.
- Show up early:
Everyone hates to be the last at a party to greet everyone. Try to get to the conference early, and stand near the registration table, entrance, or food area. These are the places where people congregate. Being the first in will make sure that people will approach you.
- Keep it fresh:
Once you have started a conversation with a peer, you want to get the most out of it. You don’t want the conversation to cut-off sooner than anticipated because of... a bad breath. Bring mints and gum to keep your breath fresh. Drink plenty of water and go easy on the alcohol.
- Just do it:
It might seem terrifying to start a conversation with someone you don’t know. Keep in mind that most people attending the conference are here for the same purpose as you, and that they are open to start a conversation. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
- Be open:
Don’t pinpoint yourself on one person you would really like to talk to. The best conversations are the ones with the people you did not expect to get much out of it. Try to be social and talk to 5 more people then intendedly on your list.
- Ask for their business cards:
Don’t forget to ask for your interlocutor’s card as well. Take notes at the back of their business card about your conversation to refer to later. It helps us retain more information as the act itself triggers a higher degree of concentration.
- 80/20 rule:
The 80/20 rule can be used in numerous situations. The same goes for networking. The trick is to ask questions, so your conversational partners can talk about themselves 80% of the time, which leaves 20% of the time for your talk. They might have the same idea though, causing the conversation to be equally profitable.
- Grab opportunities:
Attend the social activities such as the reception, guided tour and conference dinner. It’s a great place to meet other conference-goers in an “outside the conference” environment. Besides that, these moments aren’t only good networking opportunities, but they give you a break during the actual conference to not get overstimulated and overwhelmed.
- Stay connected:
Follow up with each person you meet after the conference. Staying in touch is a crucial part of networking. Follow up with a pleasant email, remind them what you spoke about, offer them a link to an interesting article, connect on LinkedIn, or schedule a “no agenda” coffee meeting.
We hope these tips will be useful at your next conference and you will be able to upgrade your professional circle.