How to Network at a Business Conference
Networking is not necessarily something that you only do online, there are various ways to network offline too.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Nowadays, we see that most people are busy connecting with people online rather than old fashioned offline networking. Networking is not necessarily something that you only do online, there are various ways to network offline too.
The old fashioned way of connecting with people is still very much valid today and is probably a lot more effective than the modern way of connecting online.
The advantage of connecting online is that you don't have to leave the confines of your office. You just need a laptop and an internet connection. But connecting with someone face to face is still far more effective and relevant than ever before. Human beings are social creatures and meeting someone in person has a far more magnetic affect than meeting online.
One of the best places to meet people who are relevant to your niche is a business conference.
I've met people at a business conference and have gone on to do business with them for several years. Just one connection can sometimes dramatically change your business. The old saying, "It's not what you know but who you know."
Here are some suggestions on networking at a business conference.
#1. Identify the kind of people you want to meet
Before you attend an event, it's important to first figure out the kind of people you want to meet.
Sit down and make a list of people you want to meet, they could be IT partners, sales people, CEOs, investors or just potential customers.
#2. Choose the right event to attend
Sometimes, people get so excited about business conferences that they attend every event they see. That's when conference burnout happens. The average person attends about three to five events a year.
It's important to pick and choose the right events.
Let's face it. Not attending a business conference can be a lost opportunity. Sometimes people can pick up business or a connection that can make them thousands of dollars.
Armir Harris, CEO of Shofur says, "I try to attend at least one event a month which is much more than the average business person. But in our industry, it is important to build connections. Majority of our business comes from networking and referrals.
He further adds, "We try to pick and choose the right events to attend. But it's hard to know which ones will eventually give us results. We've even had success at smaller events with just 30 people."
#3. Focus on quality rather than quantity
Trying to meet each and every attendee at an event is practically impossible. It's better to have longer and deeper conversations with people rather than a vague hello and just exchange business cards.
#4. Be open to keeping conversations casual
Nothing is more boring than an uptight person who only talks about dry topics. Be open, casual and conversational. Take the time to really get to know that person. You are not selling, you are only building a relationship.
In open networking events, people who are salesman types typically lose out. The focus of networking should be on building a relationship. The sale comes later.
Take the time to send your new connections a friendly email, and add them to your social networks.
Ask if you can catch up with them for a cup of coffee or even lunch. It's always nice to catch up with your connections after the event in a quieter and more relaxed ambiance with lesser distractions.
A lot of time goes into following up and getting to know your connections. An event is only the beginning of relationship building. As you establish your networking processes and start attending events, you should be able to build a steady stream of connections who could go on to become collaborators, customers and business partners.
Networking is very important in business. Taking the time to attend a business conference to network and meet people face to face might be far more effective than meeting people online. Besides, live events are fun and can be a welcome break for the entrepreneur who is stuck behind his desk for the majority of his work day.