Anyone who has a job in the modern world knows that networking is crucial to getting ahead. Business conferences are a fantastic way to meet new connections, learn more about your industry, and keep tabs on what’s coming next. Unfortunately, many people feel nervous or awkward when it comes to attending a business conference, especially if they’re not used to doing the networking thing on a regular basis.
We all have out-of-our-comfort-zone moments. Even seasoned professionals get embarrassed and self-conscious from time to time. When you try something new like attending a business conference for the first time, you don’t know what to expect and can feel intimidated by the whole experience. The good news is that it’s totally normal! Everyone feels this way at some point.
Go to Networking Events and Meet-and-Greets Together
Even if you aren't the outgoing type, you still can attend networking events and meet-and-greets so that you can get used to the experience of being around people who are in your industry and who you want to meet. You don’t have to be the first one to introduce yourself. Just know that you’re there to learn and to meet others who can be valuable contacts in your career or life. You don’t need to have a large network of contacts and friends to be considered a success.
A few solid connections can go a long way in helping you reach your goals and dreams. While going to networking events and meet-and-greets is a great idea, make sure you don’t just go to one event and think that’s enough. You have to be consistent with your attendance at these events if you want to see an impact in your business.
Networking Is About More Than Just Talking
The most common mistake people make when it comes to networking is thinking that they only have to talk to a person to succeed in making a connection. While making connections is an important part of the process, it's not the only thing you should be doing when attending a business conference. You need to be observing the people who are around you and thinking about ways you can help them.
This is the best way to network, and it makes sense. You can’t help people if you don’t know who they are or what they need. Making connections is about more than just talking to people once. It’s about connecting with people on a consistent basis. It’s about strategizing ways you can help them and vice versa.
Make sure you understand the point of the event.
The first thing you should do when attending a conference or networking event is to ask yourself, Why am I here? What is the main point of this event? What do the organizers hope to achieve from this event? The more you understand the purpose of the event, the better you’ll be able to network and make connections.
For example, if you’re attending a marketing conference, you’ll want to attend sessions that discuss the marketing trends you should be looking out for, how consumers are using social media, and how you can use marketing techniques to improve your business.
Do your research and find out who’ll be there.
If possible, take some time out before the event to do a bit of research on the people who are likely to be present. You don’t have to do a ton of research, but you should know a few key things about the people you meet. Ask yourself, Who is likely to be at this event? What do they do for a living? Why are they attending this event? In doing this, you’ll make the most of the event. You’ll know whom you should be trying to meet and what types of conversations you should be having. You’ll feel more at ease with the whole experience, and you’ll be able to network with confidence.
Decide on your goals before you go
Before you head off to the event, you need to decide on your goals. What do you hope to get out of the event? What do you want to accomplish? What’s the one thing you want out of the experience? Who do you want to meet? How do you want to stand out? Having a specific goal in mind will help you stay focused during the event and make the most out of your time there.
Check Out The Venue Beforehand
Before you attend an event at a location you’ve never been to before, take a moment to check the venue out. You want to make sure you’re familiar with the venue so you don’t feel confused or disoriented when you get there. There are certain things you should be looking for when inspecting the venue. You’ll want to check the parking situation, find out what time the event begins, and get an idea of where you’ll be sitting or standing when attending the event. Doing this will make the event feel more familiar and comfortable. Plus, it’ll feel less intimidating when you walk in the door.
Bring a friend or co-worker with you
Having a friend there with you can help ease your nerves and make the experience less intimidating. If you go with a friend, you can strategize ways you can help each other make connections and ask questions. You can also help each other stay focused and remember why you’re at the event.
Dress for Success and Use Quality Essentials
You don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money on a new outfit or buying a new suit to attend a conference. However, you do want to make sure you’re dressed for success. You don’t need to wear a fancy suit or a fancy pantsuit. Business casual will do. You just want to make sure your clothes are clean, ironed, and look presentable.
You also want to make sure your shoes are clean and polished. You also want to ensure you have a nice, quality briefcase or laptop bag you can take with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be clean and sturdy.
Take Advantage of All the Free Stuff
Attending a business conference is a fantastic way to get your hands on all kinds of useful items. You can get pens, notebooks, keychains, and even free subscriptions to magazines and newsletters. It’s a good idea to bring a small bag or a tote bag with you so you can store all the free stuff you collect. You can also use the free items you collect to remember the networking event you went to. You can also use them to help you stay organized at home or at the office.
Business conferences can be a great opportunity to make new connections, learn from industry leaders, and keep tabs on what’s coming next. However, many people feel nervous or awkward when it comes to attending a business conference, especially if they’re not used to doing the networking thing on a regular basis.
You can ease your nervousness and feel more comfortable at a business conference by going to networking events and meet-and-greets together, making sure you understand the point of the event, doing your research and finding out who’ll be there, and deciding on your goals before you go, checking out the venue before you attend, bringing a friend or co-worker with you, dressing for success and using quality essentials, and taking advantage of all the free stuff these events provide. Visit SYP.net for more information on how to make the most of business conferences and other networking opportunities.