Monday, June 17, 2013

Vantage Point Consulting Reviews Conference Networking Tips!

As an organization, Vantage Point Consulting has always fostered a culture centered around peer learning and development. Conferences offer a unique and valuable, yet often challenging, environment for young professionals seeking to expand their current connections and build on their portfolio of industry specific mentors and coaches. As we get ready to head east for a weekend of professional development in Pittsburgh, the crew at Vantage Point Consulting is taking a moment to review some of the industry’s top networking tips to make the most of those valuable hours of conference time!

1.       Have a plan. Whether mental or written, have an idea of what you want to accomplish going into the conference. What types of people do you want to meet? What topics do you want to focus? What do you want to learn? Shape your schedule around making this happen.
2.       Set appointments in advance. If you know of specific people you want to meet with who will also be attending the event, call or email them in advance to set-up a time to speak or at least get on their radar for meeting. Conferences are hectic so the more proactive the better!
3.       Don’t focus on just meeting the headline speakers. Though offering a lot of information, these people will be a hot-commodity and will be difficult to really connect with. Focus on the others in attendance and foster long-lasting and beneficial relationships with these people.
4.       Talk to the people sitting near you. Don’t let any time go to waste. Connect with the others sitting around you as you wait for a session to begin; introduce yourself to the people in the lobby or those waiting for a drink at the same time. A simple “hello” could open many doors.
5.       Ask questions and LISTEN. Don’t always be the one talking – ask questions and drive the conversation to more meaningful and substantial topics.
6.       Put your technology away. Shoving your face into your phone or laptop makes you unapproachable. Check email quickly and use break times to your advantage.
7.       Don’t automatically send Facebook or LinkedIn invites. Make your social media connections as real as your in-person connections. Jumping too quickly to online connections could in-fact hinder a relationship rather than foster future connects. Friend wisely.
8.       Read their stuff & explore their background. Go into a conversation with information to back why you are interested in connecting with them. Read up on their company background, educate yourself on their blog content and bring personalized questions to the table.
9.       Introduce others. Just like you, everyone else is looking to connect. Meet someone cool? Be the bridge that helps others’ networking mission. In the end, the connections will come full-circle and you will wind up meeting more people.
10.   Follow up. Just like with anything, the best laid plans are worthless without any intentional and meaningful follow-up. Write a note or email expressing your gratitude for their time and energy.

Adapted from Scott Allen’s article “Top 10 Conference Networking Tips” 

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