How to Maximize Networking at Your Next Conference

We’re thrilled to have Jennifer Robinson, Esquire as a guest blog post today! Jennifer is the CEO of Purposeful Networking. She conducts keynotes, workshops and seminars assisting law firms, companies, non-profits, universities and conferences to help ensure your networking is working for you. Jennifer is also the President of FemCity Philadelphia, a women’s business networking organization with 1900+ women, which is where Patricia knows her from. Take it away Jennifer!

“Fall conference season is upon us! It is so important to always be learning and expanding your network. Start to check out some of the fall offerings. Research the target audiences and whether connecting with those audiences will further your own professional development goals. Here are some additional tips to help you to have the best ROI with your conference networking efforts.

  1.     Be present. Yes you’re behind. There are deadlines, ongoing projects and the never-ending stream of emails still coming in while you take the time to attend a conference. But you’ve already committed your time and money. So don’t spend the conference on your devices or leaving during all the breaks and meals to “check in.” Take advantage of every minute to learn something new or make a new connection. That is why you are there.
  2.     Dress to impress. Think about wearing something that stands out or is a conversation starter but make sure it is true to your personal style. This could be a hat, a statement necklace, a pop of color shoe or even a great brooch like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wears and is now known for.
  3.     Don’t just show up and hope for the best. Try to connect with attendees and speakers ahead of time via email and LinkedIn with a personalized message. If there are key people you want to meet set up a meeting within the conference if possible. It could be as simple as “let’s meet by the coffee at the 10:30 AM break” or, if it is an extended conference you could set up an early morning breakfast or coffee before the conference schedule starts for the day.
  4.     Arrive early. It sounds so simple but make sure that you are present for the open networking. Often at a conference registration and networking is the first thing on the schedule. Also, if you are an introvert or someone that gets overwhelmed when the room is full and conversations are flowing, arriving early will help you to approach someone without the anxiety of interrupting other conversations. Additionally, if there is a “networking reception” at the end of the day, don’t skip it and go home or back to hotel.
  5.     Wait until 2-3 days after the conference to send your follow up emails. People are overwhelmed from being out of the office/away from their businesses and your follow up will get lost in all of the emails they already need to respond to. When you do follow up, be sure to mention something personal that you discussed to help trigger the memory of the person you are trying to connect with. They will be more inclined to reply and connect with you.

I am involved with three upcoming fall conferences. Please check them out and see if any are right for you:

Women in Media September 15-16th, 2018. Here is my personalized link that will provide a 15% off discount: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-annual-women-in-media-conference-tickets-46196307399?discount=JenniferWIMConference

FemCity Business Conference November 8th, 2018. Early bird rates available for members and non-members until September 15th. https://www.femcity.com/events/femcity-philadelphia-2nd-annual-business-conference/

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day November 12th, 2018. Tickets go live this week. https://wedphiladelphia.wordpress.com/

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