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Networking Tips That Might Actually Help

Since we are in the middle of the conference season, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a few helpful tips on how to get the most out of your next conference.

First of all, it doesn’t matter if you are a vendor or client…we all want to meet people in our industry and learn at least a few new things.

In offering you some ideas, my hope is that you either revisit something you used to do or learn and try something new.

Here are 12 tips:

  1. Always be on your toes. You never know when you’ll meet attendees, clients, prospects, colleagues, etc. I have met people in the hallway, bathroom, elevator (I actually met Jay Wilson in Las Vegas in an elevator), lobby and on a plane.
  2. Quality vs. quantity. Meet the people that make the most sense for your need today, whether it’s sales prospects or colleagues from whom you can learn current issues and corporate perspectives (even if it is only a handful of people).
  3. Don’t strain your neck. Concentrate on who you are talking to and what they have to say instead of wrenching your neck to see who else is across the room.
  4. Write important information on the back of business cards you collect—things like conversation topics, where you met them, other people you have in common, etc.
  5. Follow up with any materials that you promised to people within 48 hours! Make them a priority. This is very important. Since most people don’t do this, you WILL stand out and will probably make a new friend for life!
  6. Remember names (it’s a talent) and use them during a conversation.
  7. Do your homework before you go to a conference.
  • What are the topics?
  • Who is likely to be there?
  • What can you learn from them?
  • How can you help them?
  1. Always meet the President and Conference Chair. It’s simple—they know everyone and can help with introductions.
  2. Nervous about where you should sit? It’s the Uncle Booksie Party Rule. Growing up, my Uncle Booksie used to throw many huge parties and he was great at getting people to mingle and meet others. One of his hard and fast rules was to never sit with someone you came to the party with. That said, don’t sit with someone you work with!
  3. Add important information into your contact management tool within 48 hours. If not, you won’t do it and valuable information will be lost. As a client you have the opportunity to contact people about information or people you are looking for…whether they are at another client company or are a vendor whom you thought could be helpful. As a vendor, you will want to follow up with your new friends as soon as you can.
  4. After the conference, share materials with your team. It is a great way to share knowledge, experiences, practices and how you might apply new thinking to your strategy. Clients will want to collect materials from sessions where they learned something new and from exhibits where they are discovering new techniques and applications. Vendors need to absorb it all—the issues their clients and prospective clients are facing and dealing with, along with learning more about the competitive marketplace for research.
  5. If you’re the one who is arranging the dinner, always ask a concierge for the hottest restaurants—they change often. Yes I have shown up with clients to a restaurant that closed the month before. Don’t make the same mistake.

I look forward to hearing if you use any of these tips or have some that you use.

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