How Do You Effectively Network at Conferences?


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How Do You Effectively Network at Conferences?

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How Do You Effectively Network at Conferences?

Networking at conferences can be a game-changer for professionals, and we’ve gathered the best strategies from CEOs, Founders, and other top executives. From perfecting your elevator pitch to using your name tag wisely, explore the fifteen diverse and effective strategies these leaders recommend for maximizing your networking potential at conferences.

  • Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
  • Research and Engage Attendees
  • Craft an Engaging Introduction
  • Strategize Breakout Session Attendance
  • Offer Mentorship and Support
  • Partner for a Networking Buddy System
  • Pre-Conference Outreach and Scheduling
  • Engage Through Social Media Platforms
  • Set Goals, Embrace Serendipity
  • Initiate After-Hours Events
  • Stay at the Conference Hotel
  • Create a Targeted ‘Treasure Hunt’
  • Maintain Open Body Language
  • Ensure Prompt Follow-Up
  • Use Your Name Tag Wisely

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

Nailing down your elevator pitch can be extremely helpful for when you’re looking to maximize conference networking. By being able to convey what your brand is in a clear manner and also in a short period of time, your conversations with different individuals and groups will be much more efficient.

Jordan EdelsonJordan Edelson
CEO & Founder, Appetizer Mobile

Research and Engage Attendees

One effective strategy for maximizing conference networking, which I employ every time, is to strategically research and engage with relevant attendees. Begin by thoroughly researching the list of conference attendees, accessible through conference materials or the event’s portal. Identify individuals and organizations that align with your professional goals, interests, or areas where you seek insights.

Prioritize a list based on the potential value of each connection. Reach out to these individuals or their representatives well before the conference so that you can secure dedicated time with key individuals rather than leaving such encounters to chance. This will almost guarantee that you gain value from the conference and make valuable connections.

Jack PerkinsJack Perkins
Founder and CEO, CFO Hub

Craft an Engaging Introduction

If you’re a professional, then maximizing conference networking can greatly benefit your professional growth and opportunities. So, it’s important that you strategize on maximizing these networking opportunities. One important thing to do before attending conferences is to craft a concise and engaging introduction that highlights who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking to achieve at the conference. This will make it easier to introduce yourself to new people.

Make sure to be approachable and engaging when interacting with people. Always smile, maintain eye contact, and be open to starting conversations with new people. You should also ask questions, listen actively, and show genuine interest in others’ work. This will make a positive impact on the people you interact with.

Thomas GriffinThomas Griffin
Co-Founder & President, OptinMonster

Strategize Breakout Session Attendance

Strategize and attend breakout sessions. Walking into a networking conference blind can be a mess. You might just waltz in and start talking if you are an extrovert, or you might find yourself with little to say and not sure where to go. By having prepped your breakout sessions that align with your networking goals, you will immediately have surrounded yourself with people who are also aligned with the same goals.

Presentations give you something to talk about beyond surface sales or getting-to-know-you questions. Actively participate in the session, and then pay attention to who is contributing in ways that impress you or that you would like to know more about a person’s business or service offerings. In this way, you can strike up a conversation and lay a foundation for building a relationship, or simply a connection that is more meaningful than standing next to a punch bowl with a nametag on. Networking events do not have to feel like a high school dance; by strategizing breakout sessions, you put yourself in the room with people you really will want to align with.

Matthew CapalaMatthew Capala
CEO, Alphametic

Offer Mentorship and Support

Positioning myself as a mentor or offering peer support during the conference is one effective networking strategy. By sharing knowledge and offering guidance to newer professionals or students, I establish meaningful connections that can evolve into long-term professional relationships.

This approach not only enriches the experience of those I mentor but also enhances my reputation as a supportive and knowledgeable professional within the community. Providing mentorship or support showcases leadership and commitment to the field, attracting like-minded individuals and potential collaborators.

Ian SellsIan Sells
CEO, Million Dollar Sellers

Partner for a Networking Buddy System

I’ve found that partnering with a colleague or acquaintance for a networking buddy system can significantly enhance the conference experience. We share our networking goals and introduce each other to new contacts, expanding our reach. This collaborative approach can open doors to conversations and connections that might not have been possible solo.

Having a buddy also provides a confidence boost and a safety net for navigating larger groups, making the networking process less daunting and more enjoyable. This strategy leverages the power of teamwork to maximize networking opportunities and diversify professional connections.

Tim WhiteTim White
Founder, milepro

Pre-Conference Outreach and Scheduling

If you want to set yourself up for networking success at conferences, it pays to do some research ahead of time. Get a list of attendees and determine which companies and individuals you want to meet, keeping in mind your networking objectives. Contact the people on your list in advance to schedule a meeting, coffee chat, or lunch with them during the conference. This allows you to introduce yourself before the event itself and make sure you get time booked in their schedule. Consider connecting on LinkedIn as well, so they can put a face with your name. Then, practice your elevator pitch, key talking points, and anything else you’d like to discuss when you meet.

Thomas SamuelsThomas Samuels
President, Cardinal Expo

Engage Through Social Media Platforms

At TechNews180, we’ve found that leveraging social-media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn is an effective strategy for maximizing conference networking. During conferences, I make it a point to actively engage with other attendees by sharing my thoughts on sessions, key takeaways, and interesting conversations. By using the event’s official hashtag, I can join the wider conversation and connect with like-minded professionals who are also attending the conference. This approach helps me establish meaningful connections and allows me to showcase my expertise and thought leadership in the industry. Additionally, engaging in online discussions can lead to valuable insights, collaborations, and opportunities for future partnerships.

Neil Hodgson-CoyleNeil Hodgson-Coyle
COO, TechNews180

Set Goals, Embrace Serendipity

Have clear goals, but be open to serendipity! It’s important to attend any sort of conference event with some defined goals, as this helps you network much more effectively. It’s a good idea to know whom you want to speak with and to prepare some questions in advance so you can make the most of your time.

With that being said, it also helps to be open to unexpected opportunities and conversations. Some of the most valuable connections can arise spontaneously, and you might end up meeting some very interesting people. It’s valuable to listen to others who might be outside of your own industry simply to get a better understanding of indirect competition and to learn about new business technology and ideas.

Curtis FeatherCurtis Feather
Founder, Franboost

Initiate After-Hours Events

If you want to be a powerful networker at conferences, be the person who invites others to after-hours events. Most people feel awkward at conference events, and many will just slip back to their hotel room because they don’t have plans. The person who takes some initiative, makes dinner plans, and starts inviting others will be seen in a really positive light. You’re at the same event; you’re all away from home—people will be glad for an invite.

Logan MalloryLogan Mallory
Keynote Speaker, Logan Mallory Speaks

Stay at the Conference Hotel

One strategy for getting the most out of a conference you are attending is to stay in the hotel where the majority of the attendees are going to be, or the hotel officially chosen by the organizers. This gives you the opportunity to meet attendees even outside the official conference hours and will allow you to connect with people in a less formal setting. This will be especially beneficial if you find yourself extremely busy during the conference, attending sessions and scheduled chats. The after-hours will be a good time to meet other attendees over a meal or a cup of coffee in the hotel’s restaurant.

Warda HumayunWarda Humayun
Marketing Coordinator, Achievable

Create a Targeted ‘Treasure Hunt’

One effective strategy for maximizing conference networking is ‘The Treasure Hunt.’ Before the conference, create a list of specific types of professionals or key individuals you’d like to connect with, such as industry leaders, potential partners, or investors.

Do a quick search on people who are speaking at the event before you go there. During the conference, challenge yourself to find and talk to as many of these people as you can. Think of it like a game where each successful chat is a treasure you’ve found. You can wear something related to your job or industry to stand out. Using creative methods such as themed costumes or accessories related to the industry or business can make you easily identifiable and memorable. Prep your 30-second pitch beforehand so you feel and sound confident.

At the end of the conference, connect and follow up with an email to all the people you met and connections you made; the trick is to do this follow-up within three days of the event so it’s fresh in their memory. This unique approach not only makes networking more fun and engaging but also encourages proactive and purposeful interactions with targeted individuals, which can help entrepreneurs and their businesses grow.

Chaitsi AhujaChaitsi Ahuja
Founder & CEO, Brown Living

Maintain Open Body Language

When attending any type of networking event, it’s important to remain open-minded and to not close yourself off to possibilities. Make sure to smile, maintain open body language, and be approachable to encourage others to initiate conversations with you. Don’t be afraid to break the ice by introducing yourself to people you want to connect with.

When you do this, you have a higher chance of attracting the right people, which opens up your networking opportunities much more. By being approachable, you increase the likelihood of engaging in spontaneous conversations with a variety of attendees, including potential collaborators, mentors, or industry leaders. These unplanned interactions can often lead to valuable networking opportunities that may not have occurred otherwise. And when people perceive you as approachable, they are more likely to feel comfortable sharing information and insights with you, leading to deeper connections and potential future collaborations.

Rick NucciRick Nucci
CEO & Co-Founder, Guru

Ensure Prompt Follow-Up

My strategy for maximizing conference networking wouldn’t be complete without prompt follow-up. After collecting business cards or contact information, I send personalized LinkedIn requests or emails within 48 hours of the event, mentioning specific details from our conversation to jog their memory.

This timely follow-up is crucial for solidifying connections and often opens the door to further discussions, collaborations, or business opportunities. It turns a brief conference encounter into the starting point of a professional relationship.

Brooke WebberBrooke Webber
Head of Marketing, Ninja Patches

Use Your Name Tag Wisely

An effective strategy for conference networking is to leverage your name tag strategically. While seemingly straightforward, how you utilize your name tag can significantly impact your networking success. Ensure that your name tag is prominently displayed and easily readable, with your name and company visible. Consider adding a conversation starter or unique identifier to your name tag, such as a hobby, interest, or notable achievement. This provides an immediate talking point for others and can spark meaningful conversations.

Matias RodsevichMatias Rodsevich
Founder, PRHive

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