Route 66 - The Journey Toward Success
Make Contacts At Conventions, Seminars and Conferences
One of the main reasons cited for attendance at industry conferences is the "networking opportunities", however few people actually do a good job of taking advantage of making meaningful connections with others who are present at these types of events.
In order to meet people at a conference who could become part of your network, you must take the initiative. Creating enough of a relationship to build upon will not happen by accident. You have very little time to connect with people in a way that will allow you to follow up once the gathering is over and you all return home.
Here are five tips:
1. Be friendly. Other people also want to meet cool people at conferences, but they may not be very outgoing. Because of this, people from similar industries and interests can sit next to each other in breakout session and never have a conversation. If you want to meet people, say "hello". You will be amazed at how easy it is to start a discussion with others once you say something to them.
2. Attend the breakout sessions that interest you most. Often when you attend a multi-day conference you will have choices of topics to attend throughout the event. Select the ones that interest you the most and then remember that the others in the room had picked this session because they have something in common with you.
3. Take advantage of the breaks, lunches and happy hours to network. Too often people go into a bubble during breaks to check their email and voicemail. They either run to their room or are off on the side tapping on the blackberry. These social times are the most important tools you have to talk with others. It is at these breaks that you can chat with others and make plans to join them for other sessions or other activities.
4. Never eat by yourself or with co-workers. Eating a meal alone or with someone from your office is opportunity lost. Whether it is a scheduled group meal or "dine on your own", if you are not sharing your meal with other conference attendees you are missing out on ways to make real connections. Humans are social creatures dining together is an easy way to create bonds. Seek out others whom you would like to know better and join them for a meal.
5. Follow up is the key. After you have met a bunch of people at a conference, seminar or convention and return home is when the real important part of networking begins. Just meeting someone does not make them part of your network, it makes them someone you have met. Real friendships are cultivated over time, and therefore you must make the effort to keep the relationship with your new friends alive. Do this by sending them a follow up note or email letting them know how much you appreciated meeting them and them look for ways to continue to contact them from time to time (not too often, don't be a stalker).
Not everyone you meet at a conference will become a life-long friend, but some people can develop into very important connections. You never know until you try.
Have A Great Day.