Conferences and networking events: you either love them or hate them. They are part of your life as a business professional. What you cannot deny is that they allow you to get in touch with like-minded professionals and to create important business connections. In the age of click-of-a-mouse information, events and conferences are not the first choices of gathering information. However, there is no other place where you can engage that much with your peers, get involved in discussions and share your insight in order to help yourself and others.
While you attend an event, don’t just sit in the corner checking your emails every 2 minutes. Get up and mingle.
Here are 10 tips on how to mix and mingle during an event.
1. Go Social
Every good event organizer has various channel to communicate with its audience and potential attendees. Go through their social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and find out all you can about the speakers, partners and special features. Are they using a hashtag? Great! Do a search using the same hashtag and find all the recent event updates.
2. Google is your friend
Never heard of the organizer? Google will always be there for you. Just do simple research on the internet and find out more about the company, their variety of events, the employees (their LinkedIn page will help you tremendously with that) and their reputation on the industry.
3. Find the Speakers on LinkedIn
When you first receive your conference program, go through the confirmed speakers. This will help you get a better view of the topics that will be discussed and who you will meet on the day of the conference. Find the speakers on LinkedIn in order to learn more about them and their career. The more you learn about each other before the event, the easier it is for you to break the ice.
4. Get in touch with the organizers to get updates on the agenda
You registered for the event in May and the conference kicks off in September. There is a big chance the program will change during these months. Get in contact with a company representative and ask for the updated version of the agenda. You can do the same a few days before in order to prepare yourself and learn more about the topics.
5. Ask to be introduced
Don’t be shy. Seen some speaker that can help you with a current issue you face in your organization? As the conference producer to introduce them to you at the event or –even better- before. Networking is crucial during career development conferences and events in general. You need to engage and network with your peers and share your thoughts. You never know who will give you a helping hand or a good piece of advice.
At The Event
6. Use the engagement tools provided by the organizers
Have a question and don’t want to wait to ask after the presentation? Use the Q&A screen to add your questions. Just log in and express yourself. Apart from that, there might be a poll created by a speaker. Why miss the chance to share your opinion?
7. Check out Social Media
Be social. If you are active on social media, promote yourself by posting your attendance at the event. Use the hashtags provided by the organizer and share some pictures. Positive or negative, all feedback is valuable.
8. Network with Partners
Searching for a solution for your company? Solution providers always have stood at major events and they are there with only one purpose: to help you exceed in your industry by providing you with the best possible solution. Ask the event organizers to introduce you to them or approach them yourself. Remember, you are there to network and have fun.
9. Join the party
Speaking of fun, don’t miss the social program and the networking dinner. Sometimes it is better to discuss your issues or share your thoughts in a more relaxing atmosphere. Grab a glass of wine or beer, enjoy the view from the roof of the cocktail party and enjoy yourself.
10. Feedback, feedback, feedback
Fill in the feedback forms and help the organizers get better next year. Share your impressions, what you liked, what you didn’t, who you met and how the event helped you. If there is an online feedback form, make sure to complete it and send it back as soon as possible after the event.
Since conferences are part of your professional life, go into them with a purpose and a plan. Be positive, be committed to connecting with other professionals and remember: a little bit of preparation before you head into that big room full of strangers, can go a long way and set you apart from the rest.