photo courtesy of ITU Pictures [FLICKR]
By Chi Chi Okezie
Depending on your career, industry or field, it is expected that you will attend a conference for training, development or representing your company or business. Conferences are excellent networking venues. They give you an opportunity to meet people, gain information and resources, market / promote your brand and utilize your skills on a larger scale. It is imperative that you are prepared for this type of function so that you are most efficient in your endeavors and goals. Whether you are an exhibitor, presenter or attendee, the benefits can be enormous.
Listed below are practical tips for making the proper connections and gaining the most from conferences.
Do not leave your networking to chance. Make sure that you register ahead of time. First and foremost, it is a courtesy to the organizer of the conference. Also, your correct info is collected so that you can be informed of any changes or future events with the host / sponsor organization. Registering ahead of time, rather than walking in, also gives you access to useful information before the event such as: a detailed agenda / program, the speakers (and their bios / contact info), travel or lodging discounts, tips for a smooth conference experience etc. Definitely take time to read the information provided and plan accordingly.
Fine Tune Your Skills
Before the conference, practice your elevator pitch. Make sure that it is concise, effective and less than 60 seconds. Bring along plenty of updated resources such as: resumes, business cards, marketing / promotional items, etc. Draft questions for creating good dialogue with new people. Be able to answer simple questions such as: What do you do? Why did you attend this event? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to get out of this program? Being properly prepared not only heightens your level of awareness but also shows professionalism and credibility.
Do your due diligence and be strategic in following up with individuals or companies after the conference. Show that you are serious about business and building quality relationships. Use the follow up process to introduce people to your existing contacts, share information from the conference and meet up at a later time via phone conference, in person or at another event. Value the connections made and be focused on growing your networks.
Use these simple tips to advance in your networking and make the most conferences and similar events. Be purposeful and strategic in your interactions and engagements for building worthwhile connections.
Chi Chi Okezie has a thing or two to say when it comes to networking! As owner/producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC in Atlanta, GA, Chi Chi instructs on business networking, cultural awareness and diversity.