Dreamforce is less than two weeks away so I thought I’d share some thoughts about how to make the most out your time and accomplish something that most of us find difficult: networking. Even though I’ve been to a ridiculous number of events in my career I still have to work at meeting new people at conferences. Over the years some smart people have given me some good advice. Here are a few of the best:
Wear or carry something branded:
I always have something on or with me that has my company’s logo on it. For me it’s usually an iPad or laptop skin or an Introhive hoody or Tshirt. Because of these two things always happen at events: someone asks me what Introhive is OR they’ve heard about Introhive and want to ask questions. It’s a great icebreaker.
Sit In the Middle:
When I attend a panel or a keynote I sit in the middle of a row and as close to the front as possible. This gives me a neighbor on each side and a conversations usually sparks up while we’re waiting for the session to start. It feels natural and you already have something in common: the session you’re about to listen to.
Engaging with speakers can be tough in a busy conference but asking a question during a Q&A is a good way to make a first contact. Then if you run into them later or follow up after the conference you’ll have a connection you can reference.
Introduce yourself before the panel:
There’s always a rush to the stage when a panel or speaker ends their session. It’s the worst time to make a connection with someone. If there’s someone I want to meet I show up for the session a few minutes early and introduce myself while the panel is setting up. It works.
Following along on the event hashtag, engaging with other attendees and sharing your insights is a great way to connect with other attendees and speakers. It also softens the first meeting in real life because your already “know” each other online.
Work the floor:
Fear not the exhibits! Contrary to popular belief the sponsors and exhibitors are not just there to sell you something. We’re there to meet new people too and remember that we’re also buyers of things so there’s plenty of opportunity on the floor. Make a list of who you want to see and walk the floor.
Once you start using these tips your ability to network at conferences will go from a sense of awkwardness to developing an approach that you’re comfortable with. Meeting people is a key element of business and conferences are a great place to start relationships.
No matter what conference you attend, everyone wants to meet new people. I’ve met some amazing people at events like Dreamforce that continue to be friends today. I plan on meeting a lot more over the next few years and Dreamforce is the next conference on my list. If you’d like to connect, get in touch and be sure to follow some of these steps.
Do you have other tips and tricks for meeting people at conferences?
Introhive’s booth at Dreamforce will be #N1330. We’d love it if you stopped by to say ‘hi’. Check this special Dreamforce page for details, and to follow along with all of our blog posts, recommendations, and recaps.