There comes a time in every creative’s life where she starts thinking about attending a conference. Meeting sponsors and other brilliant creatives face to face is an important step towards growing our businesses or landing our dream gigs. But let’s be real some of us are naturals at networking while the rest of us break out in a cold sweat just reading about it. No worries though. I’m sharing 9 super simple and easy tips for rocking it at your next conference.
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Yes, you have to do a little pre-conference homework but I promise it will pay off. Take some time to research the sponsors and attendees. We all have online business crushes, right? Why not check and see if a few of your faves with be attending the same event as you?
- Spend some time browsing the conference sponsor’s websites. See what they’re about and get a feel for their culture.
- Check them out on social media. What do they post about? What type of content do they create? How do you envision your content amongst theirs?
- Engage them during the conference. Ask questions about what they’re looking for. If you feel it’s a good fit, put together a pitch.
These same tips can be applied to other attendees or businesses that you’d like to connect with.
Practice your pitch.
You are going to meet a lot of people. Be prepared and have your 30-second elevator pitch ready. Your pitch should succinctly tell other attendees what you do. DO NOT try to give them a 5-minute explanation. After you’ve given your pitch if the person asks follow-up questions feel free to give more information but keep it light.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Dress the part.
I’m sure you’ve been told, “Dress for the job you want. Not the job that you have”. At conferences, I suggest that you dress for the impression that you want to leave.
You don’t have to be a fashionista or buy a new wardrobe. Just make sure you are comfortable and that your clothing reflects your brand. Would you hire a lawyer that showed up to court in a clown suit? I doubt it.
Wear comfortable shoes. Nothing ruins a night faster than passing the comfort limit on a pair of shoes. Leave the fancy stilettos at home.
Plan out your schedule.
Try to attend as many conference-related events as possible. If there are special movie screenings or parties attend them. Lots of post-conference friendships are made on the dance floor. Also, don’t forget to build in time to decompress and rest.
Take notes about the people you talk to
Carry a notebook and a roll of washi tape with you everywhere. Then when you receive someone’s business card tape it inside with a few details about what you discussed. This makes your post conference follow up easy.
Organize your biz cards
Separate the cards you collected into 3 piles:
- People you really liked and want to stay connected to/ collab with
Follow everyone in piles 1 and 2 on social media.
Check your attitude at the door.
Bad attitudes, elitism, and egos ruin networking fun for everyone. Don’t bring your attitude to the party. People work with people they like. Learn to be likable and be nice.
You’ve wooed your new contact and exchanged cards. Don’t let the connection die. Reach out. Ask your contact what is their preferred method of communicating and make a note of it (you can write this on their business card). Now stick to a 24-72 hour timeframe for making an initial contact. Just say express how nice it was to meet them and recap any collaborations ideas that you discussed.
It’s awkward to have a great first meeting with someone and not hear from them for 3 months. It’s like a guy not calling after an awesome first date. Don’t do that. Follow up.
Check your attitude at the door.
Bad attitudes, elitism, and egos ruin networking fun for everyone. Don’t bring your attitude to the party. People work with people they like. Learn to be likable.
Enjoy the experience.
Putting yourself out there in front of strangers can be scary but practice makes perfect. The more you network the better you’ll get. Networking isn’t just about trying to get ahead in business it is a way to make genuine connections with people who have similar interests.
Have any conference related tips? Leave a comment below.
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