Trade conferences are hugely popular for a reason. One of the best ways to learn and connect with movers and shakers in particular business markets, attending conferences also provides a ton of benefits that can help attendees make important new connections and help advance their careers.
But before you go on a spree registering for trade shows for the year, it pays (in money and time) to research well on applying for those that apply to your goals and intent the most. With time well spent on applying for the most relevant ones, plan on your next steps to make the best at the event.
Networking, is the number one reason for heading to a trade conference and, when done right, can reap massive trajectory-shifting rewards. Here we take a look at five ways you can network better at conferences.
Don’t get stuck into the trap of finding a spot close to the prettiest of portable displays promoting the top businesses and brands and remaining there throughout the duration of the event. Instead, make sure you move around.
Do your best to explore the building, jump into conversations with people you perhaps don’t know and remain polite and friendly to passers-by. Invite other people in similar positions to chat with you and don’t be intimidated about introducing yourself to larger groups of people.
Another great way to maximize your networking opportunities? Do a little bit of homework before time and see who’s speaking and attending the show so that you can approach them with a little familiarity beforehand and have something relevant to talk about.
Knowing who you most want to speak with and meet before you attend is a far more methodical approach to getting the best out of a trade conference. Approaching those people with ideas on how you can help them, and then doing so, will have even bigger of an impact.
Don’t Be Afraid to Skip Panels
Some of the best times for networking and engaging with people come between presentations or panels and away from the main stage. Don’t think that by skipping out you’re going to miss out on crucial information. Sometimes hanging out in the back room or break rooms of a show can be the best place to network with people quietly and with fewer distractions.
Finding some kind of way to stand out at a conference is also a great way to be more memorable with the many people you meet. Whether that is reflected in the way you dress (don’t go too overboard) or by something specific you ask, there are many ways to stand out subtly from the reams of other attendees also hungry to network.
Be careful with this tip though as anything too out of place could reflect negatively. Just exercise caution and restraint when it comes to considering what you can do to make yourself more memorable.
Ask Good Questions
One of the worst ways to network? Constantly talk about yourself, your goals and what you’re doing. Remember you’re engaging with other people and what do other people like? Speaking about themselves.
Play into people’s favor by asking them interesting and relevant questions. Avoid the tired “where are you from” and “where do you work” formula and go for something more personal instead. “How can I help you?” is always a much better lead than cementing where someone is from and what they do.