10 Ways to
Make Networking Easier
Get the most out of the
Hey there, conference-goer! The TEAMS Conference and Expo is right around the corner, and the Discover Santa Clara team is all set to network in Palm Beach!
We understand you're here to learn, connect, and perhaps score some free swag, but let's be honest – networking at conferences can sometime feel a bit like trying to make friends in a crowded elevator if your execution is off.
Fear not, because we've got your back with these 10 effective ways to navigate the maze of conference networking. Buckle up, as we're about to delve into the art of connecting with your fellow humans!
- Have Clear Goals and Objectives | Look, we get it – you're here to network, not wander around like a lost puppy. Before you even put on that fancy badge and showcase your undoubtedly snazzy conference attire (because, let's face it, you've got style), let's get one thing straight: know your mission. Who do you want to meet? Why? And for heaven's sake, have a plan on how to charm them without accidentally proposing a business partnership on the first handshake.
- Avoid the Helicopter Approach | Newsflash: humans don't appreciate being stalked. If you spot someone you're dying to chat with, resist the urge to hover around. Channel your inner smooth operator, confidently stride up (yes, you're fabulous), and start chatting as if you're catching up with your long-lost pen pal. Remember, beneath all that professional aura, they're just regular humans. Quite the shocker, right?
- Be Ready with Conversation Starters | So, you've elegantly avoided the hovering around trap, and now you're standing face-to-face with the person of your networking dreams. It's time to whip out those conversation starters that make you sound like a clever blend of a stand-up comedian and a TED Talk speaker. Okay, maybe not all of us are destined for TED Talk stardom. But fear not, just make sure you've got a bunch of engaging and lighthearted openers up your sleeve to keep your potential connection engaged. **Scroll to the end for a few of our favorite openers
- Don't be a "Fan-girl" or "Fan-guy"| Sure, that industry influencer you want to chat up might be cooler than a cucumber but resist the urge to geek out. No one wants to be treated like a walking autograph book. (Well, okay, maybe the Discover Santa Clara crew would be open to signing autographs if it means making a new friend 😉). Instead, stay cool, sip on that delicious but pricey latte from the hotel lobby, and go engage in conversation as if they're just your everyday, run-of-the-mill connection. Again, shocker – they're only human, right?
- Create a Schedule | Conferences are like theme parks for professionals, minus the roller coasters (usually – though we do have some across the street at Great America in Santa Clara, just saying!). Plan out the sessions, events, and booths you want to visit. Remember, this isn't about catching them all like you're a Pokémon trainer. Prioritize quality over quantity.
- Visit the Gym (or on-site Starbucks)| Who would've thought that networking and exercise could be BFFs? If you're a gym rat and hitting the gym is part of your routine, make use of that hotel fitness center. It's a great spot to naturally meet attendees outside the conference madness. And if the gym isn't your thing, we've got an alternative for you – visit Starbucks! Let's be honest, the on-site Starbucks is essentially a caffeinated melting pot of networking opportunities. Nothing says, "Let's talk business" like waiting in line for your quad-shot, oat milk, vegan, ethically sourced, no-foam, half-sweet, skinny caramel macchiato.
- Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork | Grab a coworker or a fellow conference-goer (if you're going solo) and form your dynamic duo. Think of it like Batman and Robin, minus the capes (unless that's your style – that would actually make for a great conversation starter, see point 3). Divide and conquer sessions, then regroup for a tag-team approach during networking events. This is the TEAMS Conference after all. You can’t be going to this conference in good conscious if you aren’t a team player. 😉
- Provide Value | Networking is a two-way street, and one-sided conversations aren't enjoyable. Share your insights, offer a tip or two, or throw in a witty joke to brighten their day. Remember, you're not just presenting your business card – you're showcasing yourself as someone worth getting to know.
- Join Lists for Conference Dinners, Meet-ups, and Parties | Networking at a conference is great, but networking while indulging in tapas and pretending to be a sommelier is even better. Get yourself on those exclusive guest lists for dinners, meet-ups, and parties. Just remember, no matter how tempting after a few drinks, the karaoke machine might not be a good idea.
- Follow Up | Ah, the post-conference follow-up – it's like the awkward "who's going to text first" dance, but with less suspense. Reach out to those you've connected with, and not solely to remind them of your existence. Share some insights, an interesting article, or a toss in a fun conference related memory you both shared.
So, there you have it, fearless networker! With these 10 strategies to conquer the wild world of conference networking, you'll be mingling and charming your way to professional success in no time.
And hey, while you're at it, remember to check out Discover Santa Clara at the TEAMS Conference – we'd love to connect with you and be your friend! Fill out the form below if you're going to TEAMS.
**Here are a few of our favorite openers to get you started:
- “What has been your favorite sessions so far?”
- “How long have you been with (INSERT COMPANY/ORG)?”
- “What are you hoping to get out of this conference?”
- “Will you be attending other conferences in the near future?”