Networking events are a great way to get to know the personalities in your industry. Conferences provide the opportunity to connect with a wider variety of industry peers and thought leaders than the average networking drinks. But often, without prior introductions it’s difficult to get face-time with the most influential personalities.
Consider our top 5 pre-networking tips to maximise your networking potential at conferences or other business events.
1. Set specific goals
Before you attend a networking or social event at the conference it’s important to take a moment to reflect on what you specifically hope to achieve. Are you looking for a business connection that will get you in touch with industry influencers? Or do you need a mentor who can bring an experienced eye to your operations? Identifying whom you need to connect with to make an impact on your bottom line is crucial to networking success.
2. Do your homework
Your time is valuable so choosing the right event to attend is critical. For example if you’re thinking of purchasing new accounting software but don’t know where to start, going to a trade exhibition with no idea of what you’re after and no intention of buying is pointless. Your time would be better spent going to an accounting technology conference and sitting in on a seminar about finding the right software for your business. At the latter event you’re far more likely to find like-minded people or industry experts willing to guide you on your purchasing journey.
3. Research the attendees
Never go to an industry conference without having at least a vague idea of who will be attending. Once you’ve identified what you need to achieve at the event, looking for the right people to connect with will be easier. Is there a keynote speaker you’d like to speak to? Chances are there are a few other people who have the same idea, so your time with them may be limited. Research their area of expertise and how their knowledge could most benefit you. Having a few questions ready to ask is the best way to make the most of their time and leave a great impression.
4. Get social
While researching an event you’ll find social media pages and hashtags have been set up to help attendees connect before the event. Make the most of these forums by using LinkedIn or Twitter to find out a bit more about your fellow delegates. This will increase your visibility at the event while ensuring you have made connections you can network with ahead of time.
At our recent 2014 Reckon Group Conference, use of the hashtag #ReckonConf on Facebook and Twitter facilitated connections with other delegates, opening the door to a multitude of conversations.
5. Set up meetings
Prior to attending a conference, ensure you find time in your schedule to set up meetings with other delegates. Often most attendees are as strapped for time as you’ll be, so in your meeting request ensure you cover specifically what you’d like to discuss and how long you’d like to meet for. Contacting another industry member through LinkedIn is helpful if you don’t have their email address and allows them to verify your credentials to ensure you’re not a random oddball.
Do you have any networking golden rules? Let us know in the comments.