Networking can be intimidating at times. Networking at a conference full of professionals can heighten that sense of intimidation. To help you confidently break the ice, here are 5 creative networking tips you’ve probably never heard of that you can easily implement at your next conference.
1. Make Your Wait Time Your Wingman
Take advantage of your wait time by talking to the people around you. Put your phone away and use your current situation as an opportunity to break the ice. Here are a few situational icebreakers to help you get some meaningful conversation started.
Waiting for a session to start
- What time does this session start again?
- It took me (however long) to get over here. I just came from (insert session here). Where are you coming from?
- My session ran long because ….. (or short because). I wish they would have explored _____ more. How did your session go? What did they talk about?
- This line for this session is really …
- Long: (The speaker/topic) must be great or we’re all in dire need of help! What are you looking to learn in this session?
- Short: Hopefully that means we’ll have more time to ask questions. What made you want to attend this session.
Waiting in line for lunch
- What options do they have for lunch?
- I’m glad they have ____ available. Usually, I just have _____ at work (or where I’m from). Are you from here?
- I’m so glad it’s lunchtime. I was dying in my last session. Which session are you coming from?
- How long do we have for lunch until the sessions start back up?
- I was thinking of heading to ____ session, but ___ session is a little closer. What sessions have you attended already?
Waiting to talk to a vendor
- Is this vendor known for _____ ? I want to make sure I’m in the right place.
- How did you hear about them?
- Our company is trying to get better at ____. Hopefully, they can help. Have you used them before or are you familiar with their work?
Waiting to meet and greet a speaker
- Did you catch the part where (Insert speaker’s name) said about (insert a point from the presentation topic)? I missed a little bit of what (s)he said taking notes.
- That was a really good point (s)he made! What was your favorite part of the presentation?
- I didn’t quite understand what (s)he meant when they said ____. I hope I get a chance to ask my question. Did you get what (Speaker’s name) was saying? Maybe I missed something.
2. Streamline Your Networking Interactions with Your SmartPhone:
If you are going to be on your phone during the conference, make sure you have space designated on your phone screen for productive networking. Here are few things you should have bookmarked on your home screen to streamline your networking efforts in a fun, efficient and creative way. They are:
- Your Conference App: Nowadays, most conferences create their own apps to help attendees navigate the conference halls, announce giveaways, send notifications about schedule changes, as well as facilitate new ways for people to connect during the event. More likely than not, you will find a social sharing feature that will allow you to network with other attendees through the app.
- Bizzado App: Bizzado is an app that allows you to scope out conference attendees before you go. It filters through the event’s attendees list and lets you message people relevant to you and your interest. All you have to do is sign in with your LinkedIn account. See if your conference is listed on the app and get to networking!
- Linkedin App: You can add people during or right after you talk to them. They probably won’t check it until they get back to work, but at least you’ll be top of mind as a viable connect. Be sure to add you met them at the conference in your invite.
- Text Templates: Anticipate the kinds of conversations you might have prior to the conference. Then make templates in your notes or in your quick response settings. Once you’ve exchanged numbers with someone, have these general messages ready to send so you can spend more time networking, less time texting.
- Business Card Info: If you forget your cards and/or prefer not to carry them, have your contact information ready to share as a template.
- Future Friends Templates: Messages that invite people to attend sessions with you and/or hang out later (lunch, networking happy hour, etc.)
- Helpful Templates: Messages that address what your new connection is interested in by directing them to sessions, vendors or websites that might be useful.
- Follow Up Templates: Messages that say it was nice meeting you, hope you got in safe, and let’s stay connected.
- CamCard App: Networking comes with the hassle of juggling tons of businesses cards. Rather than carrying them around for the duration of your trip, take some time each evening to save them on CamCard. CamCard allows you to take pictures of all the business cards you collected and your done! No more losing important contacts in the wash.
3. Train Twitter to “Network” For You
If you’re on Twitter, but you’re not familiar with IFTTT or Zapier, now might be a good time to get acquainted with both platforms. IFTTT (also known as “If This Then That) and Zapier allow your apps and devices to talk together in unique ways. All you have to do is create an “if this happens – then that happens” scenario between two apps and/or devices on IFTTT or Zapier. From there, the platform will make sure that every “this” action triggers a “that” action to happen.
For Twitter users, this is extremely helpful because it lets you automatically monitor and connect with people who willing and eager to share what they’ve learned from the conference. Here are a few useful scenarios you can implement do keep in touch with conference Tweeters.
- Thank your new Twitter follower
- Thank someone for mentioning you in their tweet
- Save the tweets you like on Google Doc (If you want to do an event recap, it’d be great to feature your favorite tweets).
- Track event hashtags or general event searches mentioned on Twitter
- Send a special message to your new Twitter followers
- Automatically welcome new Twitter followers to your page
- Track your new Twitter followers on a spreadsheet
- If an event attendee uses a hashtag – automatically add them to a Twitter list
4. Don’t Let the Loners Be Alone
If you’re attending a conference alone, approaching random people can seem a little daunting – especially in an atmosphere where making connections is SUPPOSED to happen.
Instead of thinking about ALL of the people you have to meet, you can start with focusing on connecting with a few people ahead of time. Use the event hashtag or reach out to people from your Linkedin, Professional Facebook groups, and the conference app groups to see who’s coming by themselves. Plan to meet up for one big lunch for one day during the conference. If you met other loners at the conference, invite them to come along. Save fun professional, personal and conference related questions on your phone to discuss at the lunch. This is a nice way to create community among your new connections.
5. Share the Wealth – Share Your Notes
When you’re attending a conference, so many seminars are taking place at the same time; there is no way for you to attend all of the sessions you have your eyes on.
If you want to be seen as a huge asset and a favorite at the conference you’re attending- share your notes with other attendees. Save your recap notes as a Google Doc and/or Evernote entry and share it with the public.
Notify people via Twitter and Linkedin. Share the name of the session you attended by using the event hashtag and tagging the speaker as well as the event’s Twitter handle. This will increase your visibility, position you as a thought leader, and attract more attendees to you rather than you chasing people down.
To consolidate all of your Tweets that contain session recaps, save all of your tweets as a Twitter Moment. You can share this moment at the end of the conference so attendees won’t have to scour through dozens of tweets to find your notes. Retweet the conference handle and the speakers so you can be top of mind and attract new connections you may have missed out on during the conference.
We’re excited to see how these tips work for you! If you’re going to an event we’re attending, Tweet us at @theworkmonger and let us know!
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Until next time, stand out & do good!