Conference Season: Networking Tips & What To Know


Conference season means it’s networking season. It’s prime time for conferences and trade shows and we're thinking about all the networking opportunities ahead. Here are some networking tips for you (and your team) on how to get the most out of your conference experience.

Conference Networking Tips For Professionals

So, what are some great networking tips for not only these events, but your next conference?

Everyone’s approach will be different, but some bits of advice for networking in business from Forbes include:

  • Introduce yourself using only your name, leaving out “Hi, my name is…” The thinking behind this is to project confidence and get right into the conversation.

  • Talk less; listen more. This provokes curiosity and demonstrates that you are interested in the other person.

  • Avoid the asking-for-a-job transaction. In other words, instead of mentioning that you’re in search of a job, talk about what you hope for in the future in terms of your goals.

Networking advice:
Talk less; listen more.

“The most basic problem with traditional networking events is that they are mixing bowls for professionals who are there for different reasons,” says Derek Coburn in an article on the Harvard Business Review. “Everyone there is focused on his or her own personal agenda, whether it’s signing a new client, creating awareness for their business, or connecting with someone in the hopes of developing a mutually beneficial relationship.”

What does that mean for you?
Well, not everyone is good at or even likes networking. That’s why you should try to make the most of any opportunities you get by using this advice. Hopefully, if you know what to do to get started in a conversation, the ball will keep itself rolling because you’ll be actively listening and learning from a new acquaintance.

One helpful tip when meeting new people is to “Ask a better version of, ‘What do you do?’” Business Insider advises to instead try something like “What’s keeping you busy these days?” to let people choose what to focus on instead of boxing them into talking about only work. This question could open someone up to talking about their family, their latest hobby, or anything else happening in their life. This could start some real conversation and build a unique bond.

Related Article: Expense Reporting In 20 Years: Our Expense Report Predictions For 2037

Also consider that lots of other people are probably also in your shoes: looking for the chance to create potential business partnerships, but unsure of how to do it in a meaningful, practical way. You could use that to your advantage so that you’re less nervous and you feel like you’re on even footing with those around you. This doesn’t have to be the typical “networking” operation that comes to mind when we think of that work.

In fact, most people dislike that idea of a typical networking situation, a lot. According to a September 2016 article in Forbes, “Shelley Zalis can’t stand the term ‘networking.’ For the Los Angeles-based CEO, the word conjures up an image of a bland name-tag along with the transactional, often inauthentic manner in which many of us were groomed to make professional contacts.”

"Networking should be all
about authenticity and
meeting people that you like,
that you share ideas with."

Networking doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead, it should be about two people being humans to one another, boosting one another and building a real relationship.

According to Zalis, “A network is not something you pick up and put down. I think it's about relationships that you create and stay with…Networking should be all about authenticity and meeting people that you like, that you share ideas with, and to me those are the best business relationships.”

Perhaps the most essential tip to remember when it comes to networking is to avoid being a “taker.” Instead, be a listener, a learner, and a giver. Perhaps most imortantly, never miss an opportunity to say thank you.

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