Have you been able to make use of business conferences to strengthen your network of contacts? Face to face conferences, irrespective of whether they are carried out through business seminars, workshops, luncheons or even cocktail evenings, are a fantastic way for you to network and widen your business circle. Here are some effective strategies to help maximise networking opportunities:
Do some preparation. What do you want to tell others about yourself? Why are you attending the conference? A little preparation beforehand goes a long way, and rehearse your introduction as well to get it concise and precise.
Ask questions and listen to answers. Networking is about finding out the business activities of others, then thinking of ways in which you can help them and how they can help you. Ask lots of questions and show interest by listening to their answers – you will never work out the mutual benefits you can achieve unless you get to know your potential contact. What do they do? Why are they at the conference? What do they think of a change in legislation that affects their business activities?
Try to offer help. If you speak to a number of people at the conference, the chances are that you would be able to offer some help to at least one of them. Just remember that what goes around comes around. The form of help can include a recommendation, an idea, or an introduction to a useful contact.
Write things down. Bring a pen or notebook and write down anything that you would like to remember, examples include useful tips, contact details or recommendations.
Introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself. Those without networking experience may feel nervous and would actually feel grateful to be approached by you.
Bring lots of business cards. Give them to everyone you speak to, so they have a better chance of remembering you.
Follow up afterwards. Whilst still fresh in your mind, follow up with your new contact through an email or a phone call to ensure a good start to your business relationship.