Conferences are an incredibly useful tool for you to stay on top of industry trends and network with other people within your industry. There’s a number of conferences that happen across North America in just about every industry from to travel.
It’s typically advisable to try to attend two to three conferences per year in order to keep up on the industry and help feed your businesses growth. A common concern among people though, especially those new to conferences, is how to make them worth all of the hassle and financing. Here are a few tips on how you can make the most out of your next conference.
Practice Introducing Yourself
When you’re at a conference, you’re going to meet a lot of people. This is fantastic, but you’ll quickly realize something. When you introduce yourself people’s eyes glaze over and they have a look of hesitation on their face. What’s the reason for this?
You’re taking too long to introduce yourself. You have a lot of people to meet and so does everyone else, so you need to practice introducing yourself in a single sentence. It’s important to be brief. If the other attendee shows interest you can then expand on who you are and what you do. The intro should just get the conversation started, nothing more.
Plan Ahead To Manage Your Time
Conferences have a lot to offer, so it’s unreasonable to expect to be able to see everything. Small business conferences always post a schedule as well as a map of the event space on their website. Take note of these materials early because they will make up the substance of your game plan.
Make a list of everything that’s a ‘must-see’ and schedule it in. Figure out the location of each event and its time slot so you can see how long it will take to attend each event and get to the next one. Once you have that down, then approach the rest of the schedule and map out everything else. This game plan will save you a lot of time and wasted effort.
One of the worst feelings is missing one or more events you really wanted to see but couldn’t because you didn’t properly plan.
Listen More Than You Talk
You’re at the conference to learn, not talk about yourself. There’s a great quote by the columnist Doug Larson that reads “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” This couldn’t be more true, so take heed of this.
When you listen, you’ll be able to rack your mind with brilliant ideas about your industry that you can take home. Every minute you spend talking, is a minute less you have to truly learning something inspiring that can be useful to you.
Live It Up At The Social Events
The social events at conferences are where you can really cement connections. It’s one thing to meet someone at a speaker, but it’s another to invite that person to a social event and spend time actually getting to know them. There are several networking events in NYC and other major cities. This will help you to form strong bonds and relax in a more comfortable setting.
Master The Follow Up
The follow up is the most important part of any conference. The reason being is that it takes the connections you make a conference and begins to fully utilize them. The follow up is simple. Collect all of the business cards you gained at the conference and file them all with a simple tab system.
Once you’ve done this, go through the one’s which you want to build on and e-mail the person. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them at the conference and would love to continue chatting. This is a simple step and will show a lot of initiative to those who you met there.
Never feel like you’re missing out again at the next conference by following these tips. Conferences are incredible networking events that help us stay in the now, but they can often be expensive and not worth the hassle unless you take advantage of every moment.
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