I’ve been to thousands of conferences, and though the sessions are engaging, inspiring, and informative, the real business, networking, happens in between the scheduled events.
When you check in for your next conference, will you have your bags packed for success?
You will if you have the following seven things:
1) Business cards — We may live in a digital age, but real business is still done with a handshake. While it may be easier just to text someone your information, business cards also act as a physical reminder, so that when the person you meet gets home and empties his pocket, he can associate your face with your card. That’s also the reason why your cards should be customized to fit your industry and personality — the more they remind someone of you, the more useful they are.
2) A pen — If you go home with 30 business cards in your pocket, it’s unlikely that you’ll remember the interactions you had with each person. Make a note on the back of the cards you receive, even if it’s something as simple as the title of the book you discussed or the city that the individual is from. It’s a lot easier to reconnect with people following an event if you can remember your initial interaction clearly.
3) An outfit upgrade — No one wants to be the one in the polo shirt at the black tie event. Whether it’s a blazer, a spare tie, or just a really nice watch, leave an item in your hotel room that you can quickly throw on should you find yourself underdressed.
4) A granola bar — Networking events are about talking, not eating. Grab a snack before the event so that your mind is focused on connecting, not canapes.
5) The guest list — Though this information may not be available to you, the more you can find out about the people who will be attending the event, the better. Set up at least three meals with the key people you’re particularly interested in meeting ahead of time so that you don’t miss the opportunity to talk to them in the midst of a hectic conference. Agree to meet for an early breakfast, or even just to sit next to each other at lunch.
6) Your elevator speech — This is your 30 second “commercial” about who you are and what you do. Keep it short by outlining the basic bullet points and practicing it in the mirror before you go. Remember: when you talk about yourself, you’re listening to information you’ve heard thousands of times. Instead, seek new information by asking questions of others.
7) The magic question — The very best question you can ask is this: “How can I help you?” If you walk away from the networking event without a single new contact or insight, but you’ve helped someone else, the event was a success.
Remember, most business at conferences is done during the breaks between the sessions.
As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.