Business conferences can be an extremely important part of the annual calendar and will benefit your business in many areas. They provide potential new business opportunities and can be a good way to advance your career. But how can you get the most out of these events and what are the top tips for networking?
Do your research
You’ll have a more successful conference if you spend some time researching the event before attending. Take a look at the key speakers and read their biographies and profiles. This will not only help you see if they’ll be useful for networking, but might also give you an insight into their interests to help start a conversation. Also, have a read through the attendee list and make notes on who the most important people to meet are.
Networking doesn’t come easily for everyone, but unfortunately it’s a part of business life that you have to learn to live with. It’s important, however nervous you are, that you make the right first impressions. Decide in advance what business image you want to portray in order to stand out from the other attendees. Focus on the most important people in the room and make sure that you have a clear goal of what you want to achieve from the event.
Start a conversation
Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move, as they’re probably just as nervous as you. Use their name badges to make the initial contact and maybe strike up a conversation about the last speaker or presentation as an ice-breaker. Show an interest in the other person’s life, regardless of your own feelings and you’ll soon increase your network of friends and business acquaintances. Don’t feel that you have to ignore people’s personal lives because you’re at a business conference. This usually relaxes people if they can talk about something easy and it helps to keep the conversation flowing. When you finish a conversation make sure you remember individual contacts and make notes later if necessary.
Find the experts
Conferences are full of people who are exceptionally good at networking and seem to know everyone in the room. Make sure you find out who they are and start a conversation with them. This way they’ll introduce you to other influential people. It’s not all about how they can help you; you should also consider how you can be of assistance to others at the conference. Find out what areas people work in and see if you have any contacts that might be able to help them.
Keep in touch
Once the conference is over make sure that’s not the end of your networking. Maintain your database back at the office and ensure that you don’t lose contact with these new leads. Use any excuse to get in touch, a birthday, new business win, interesting development in the market and add them to your business social network. You might not think they’ll be important immediately, but you never know what the future will bring.
If you follow these steps when attending your next business conference, it should become a more enjoyable and profitable experience. Not everyone is a natural at developing new relationships, but with some practice it should become easier in time.
This guest article was written on behalf of Liverpool University who can provide great venues for conferences in Liverpool – visit their website for more information.