Conferences. Giant lecture halls, coffee break mixers, and hundreds of new people to meet. Whether that image fills you with excitement (extroverts rejoice!), or reconsider your registration status, there are things we can all do to make the most of the opportunities presented.
Gatherings like Blue create ideal conditions for connecting with others because we walk in the door with common interests. What are some steps we can take to turn awkward eye contact into a potentially meaningful exchange?
Before You Go
- Do a little homework. Look up the speakers and learn about their areas of interest. Reach out to them on social media, or check out their blogs.
- Start connecting with other attendees. Post to Facebook or Twitter to tell your networks that you attending. This way if others in your circle in attending you can start connecting now.
- Set a networking goal. Do you want to meet more people from your channel, find some others who work/live nearby, or are potential professional contacts? Consider making some networking cards. Having your contact information pre-printed will make it easier to share information.
- Plan to arrive early for sessions. Navigating a smaller crowd can help you to warm up and meet others.
During the Event
- Put down your phone. I know, it is a lot to ask! Consider letting those emails pile up and being more present at the event.
- Talk to your neighbors. Introduce yourself to those sitting around you, or at events. Stay on-site for dinner on Friday. Grab a burrito from food truck row and connect with some people you met during the day.
- Personalize those business cards. If you choose to exchange information with others, write a personal note when you hand it over.
- Use social media. Tweet and post highlights and reactions. (Preview: More on this topic to come next week!)
- Drop the agenda. Having a networking goal is great, but don’t let it overpower your conversations. Pray for divine appointments and connections and be careful of dismissing people that may not seem similar to your target group. Think about connections you can draw between people.
- Volunteer for the conference. We are still taking volunteers for Blue and its a great way to meet other people.
- Know your limits. I am an off-the-chart extrovert who is energized by interacting with people, but even I get exhausted after being “on” for hours in a row. Know your boundaries.
- Make specific plans. When you connect to others, suggest a specific time to meet. Saying “Let’s get lunch next week” shows more investment than “See you around.”
Looking forward to connecting with each of you at Blue!
Links to additional tips and resources: