So you’ve bought tickets for your next big recruitment conference, and the day is approaching quickly. Now what? It’s crucial to prepare for a conference to ensure that you maximise and use your time effectively.
I’ve put together my top conference ‘hacks’ to help you make the most out of your time at a conference. Let me know if you have any other conference hacks that you use when conferencing and networking.
1) Wear a hat (or another memorable piece of clothing):
This is a great hack that works for many situations – and it really helps to make yourself memorable. If you wear something (a piece of jewellery or a hat), it will be used to identify you and therefore keep you at the forefront of peoples minds. I always follow this rule when I’m going for interviews, with a flower in my hair or a funky shirt.
— Stacy Donovan Zapar (@StacyZapar) February 6, 2015
Take inspiration from Bill Boorman and his hat, or Rand Fishkin of Moz.com who’s yellow shoes have made him a bit of a fashion icon!
2) Ask questions:
Ask questions – if you’re stuck for conversation, it’s good to direct the conversation to the other person.
People LOVE being asked questions about themselves, so go crazy! Let them tell you all about themselves and you’ll have a new person in your network in no time.
3) “Nobody belongs here more than me”
This is a hack for all the introverts out there. Networking events can be incredibly nerve-wracking for some. The idea of speaking to strangers and putting yourself out there can be a scary thought. The trick to beating this is remembering the mantra:
Nobody belongs here more than me.
Never feel embarrassed about what you do or who you are, your experience or your age. And if people make you feel uncomfortable for it, don’t worry about them – they’re not worth networking with anyway!
4) Just do it:
Conferences and networking events can feel like a whole lot of effort for no real outcome. It can be easy to flake on an event and miss out of a chance for networking, but by missing an event you could miss the perfect opportunity for you or the company you work for. You could meet a potential new client!
No matter the networking event, there is no harm in attending – you never know who you might meet!
5) Make a list of prompts:
Meeting people is where networking events can become awkward. If you feel like you’re missing the skills to start valuable conversation than you should note down some conversation prompts that you can follow when meeting people. Meet people at the food line with a funny comment about the food, or compliment someones shoes.
You can still be genuine when following prompts too – remember not to come off too forced.
6) Research who’s going to be attending:
This is a great way to meet people, and you’ll automatically make a great impression by knowing who they are.
Not only will this make them feel very important, but it also makes a good conversation prompt!
7) Bring a battery charger:
There’s nothing worse than your phone dying, especially when you’re at a social media conference! Be sure to bring a phone charger with you for a little boost of battery when you’re on the move.
It also means you can keep up with all the new connections you make, and also the conference hashtag!
8) Connect with speakers
Attending conferences means you have a way into the networks of the big-dogs who are speaking at the event.
A simple LinkedIn message telling them you loved their talk usually does the trick!
9) Look up the venue the night before
One of my least favourite things EVER, is having an event to attend but getting lost in the area whilst looking for the venue. This is why it’s so important for me to Google the venue location the night before and plan my journey so that I know exactly where I’m going. There’s nothing worse than rushing and being late to a conference you were looking forward too.
This usually means I’m early to EVERYTHING, but at least I have time for a coffee and a relax before the conference begins.
10) Get there early:
Getting to the venue early means you have an extra chance to meet some other attendees that you would otherwise not get to meet.
Chatting over an early morning coffee is a great casual way to get to know others, and you have your commutes to chat about!
11) Ask the host who you should network with:
If you’re not sure who you should be networking, why not ask the host who you should be getting to know? This way, you’ll get an introduction and you’ll also be talking to the most relevant people for you. Bingo!
12) Take notes:
I always find that if I physically jot things down, I am more likely to remember them and look back at them later on. Whenever I go to a conference I make my best effort to leave my laptop/tablet at home and go back to basics with a notepad and pen. It helps me take the information in and I don’t get distracted by other things on a screen.
13) Follow up:
Follow up with all the speakers and people you met on the day that evening or the day after the conference.
This way, you won’t forget to connect with anyone that you met and you’ll also create a opportunity to keep the conversation going.
Main image credit: Shutterstock