10 Tips on Networking Like a Pro at a Conference

Note: This is a guest post from Dave Delaney. Dave is the founder of Futureforth, the author of New Business Networking, and a speaker at this weekend’s Tribe Conference.

Networking isn’t just something you do during an event. It is a process you must take part in before, during, and after.

10 Tips on Networking Like a Pro at a Conference

Networking leads to new business opportunities and new relationships. It’s paramount to your career and business.

To help attendees, sponsors, and speakers prepare to connect and grow their networks this weekend at the Tribe Conference, or any other conference for that matter, I would like to share 10 tips on networking like a pro at a conference.

1. Practice your elevator pitch

Practice your elevator pitch before you go. Who are you? What do you do? Why are you attending the Tribe Conference?

You will be asked these questions, so rehearsing your answers ahead of time will help you prepare your thoughts. Plus, you might discover another reason why you are attending that you hadn’t considered.

2. Show up early

Try to get to the conference early, and stand near the registration table, entrance, or food area. These are the places where people congregate.

When you first arrive, solo attendees will especially be seeking a friendly connection. Don’t let them become wallflowers.

Also, consider approaching sponsors and introducing yourself. A casual conversation with a conference sponsor led to my book deal. (And to Jeff’s, too, by the way!)

3. Express interest in others

Be more interested in other people than yourself.

4. Ask questions

Ask questions, and actively listen to the answers. Use eye contact and body language to show you are listening.

5. Talk to strangers

Forget what your parents taught you. Everyone is there for a similar reason. You are all sharing the same experience.

A good icebreaker is to ask someone what they thought of a particular speaker or who was their favorite speaker of the day.

6. Be personable

Use a person’s first name several times as you are speaking to help you remember it.

7. Take notes

Take notes on a person’s business card about your conversation to refer to later. Can you help this person? Who should you introduce them to? Don’t forget to bring your cards, too.

8. Keep it fresh

Things can get stale during conferences. Bring mints and gum to keep your breath fresh.

9. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water, and go easy on the alcohol.

10. Stay connected

Follow up with each person you meet after the conference. Staying in touch is a crucial part of networking.

Follow up with a pleasant email, remind them what you spoke about, offer them a link to an interesting article, connect on LinkedIn, or schedule a “no agenda” coffee meeting.

Bonus Tip: Use Twitter to follow and meet the speakers before you attend. Jeff’s team has created a convenient list you can subscribe to on Twitter here.

Use my tips, and I guarantee you will have an amazing time at the Tribe Conference or any other conference you attend. Be sure to find me and say hello if you are attending.

Have you set out to network at a conference before? What was your experience like? Share in the comments.

Dave Delaney is the founder of Futureforth and the author of New Business Networking.

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5 thoughts on “10 Tips on Networking Like a Pro at a Conference

  1. And for the outgoing introverts like myself, hit the coffee to help you get over #3-5 😉 The Factory has some excellent options. Or, hit up High Brow or Frothy Monkey before heading in 😀

  2. Great tips. Writers tend to be introverted, but simply talking with people is a skill that benefits everyone involved. I’d add the advice to de-idolize potential clients before going. You hear “they’re just people” all the time, but how much do you believe it? A little mindset work up front can help you chill out when it’s time to tell folks what you bring to their table.

    And since I’m on a roll (that is, procrastinating on deadlines), another tip would be to attend conferences geared toward your clients, not just toward you. Make sense?

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