When you’re working, you want to see an ROI in everything you do. That’s why conferences are sometimes ignored by some people. That’s because these conferences take precious time away from their work, and even from their family. It’s tiring to travel, and there are the costs of the transportation and the hotel to consider. Is it really worth going?
But conferences are great opportunities to network, and you can maximize your networking benefits with the following tips:
Use the Conference App
A lot of conferences these days offer a free app. These offer schedules and other convenient features and data, and often there’s a chat or a messaging platform included. Download this app and use it extensively. Use the conference hashtags to boost your visibility with other people going to the event.
Sit in Front
Many of us subconsciously regard front row sitters the way we did when we were first in school. The front row folks seem somehow “nerdy”. They seem to be too serious and ambitious.
But these are actually the sort of people you want to network with. They’re the ones who take things seriously, so you can pick their brains regarding various topics. What’s more, you can connect with them and you gain a new contact.
Optimize Your Break Time
You’ve listened to one speaker, and now there’s a short break before a new speaker comes on. What do you do? Maybe you visit the restroom, but after that you may end up just playing with your phone and talking to the folks back home.
Instead, use this time to connect to people. The break time may be too short to really connect with people, but you may want to consider leaving early for some session so you can go to the restroom and then sue the next whole break time for networking.
In fact, you may want to sit out a few sessions altogether and spend that time instead with the common areas with other conference attendees. If you find others going to the same conference as you, then you certainly should have plenty of topics to talk about.
Don’t Skip the Receptions
Yes, after a day listening to various speakers you may want to rest in your hotel room and just order room service to wind down. But this is a mistake. Receptions are there because they offer excellent networking opportunities. If there’s one, be sure to attend it.
What if there’s no reception? That doesn’t mean room service for you. Sit at the hotel bar and order a few snacks or a meal. Sooner or later, you’ll find other people from the conference drifting in. The setting will be much more casual with a few drinks, so networking can be much more effective.
Send emails to the speakers and remark on what you enjoyed or learned from their talks. Such emails can make you stand out. You can also follow them on Twitter or connect with them through LinkedIn.
Send emails to the people you’ve met as well. Now that you’ve started a connection, it’s time to cultivate it.
So you see, going to a conference can be worth it. You learn something from the talks, and you also widen your network. That’s a great ROI for your time and effort.