Our podcast episode this week was recorded live from the Tradeking stage at FinCon 2016 – otherwise known as the Financial Blogger’s conference. We all enjoyed getting to record face-to-face, which did make staying on topic a bit of a challenge at times.
During the conference, we all did our best to network and make connections to help us grow our businesses in the next year and beyond.
Attending conferences and networking is essential for business growth and to foster new and existing relationships with people. But it isn’t always easy to network.
If you are struggling with networking, here are some tips to help you make the most of any conference or other networking event you may attend.
Introverts, Hitch Your Wagon to an Extroverted Friend
Most of the time introverts can benefit from “working the crowd” at a conference with an extroverted friend. Extroverts aren’t afraid to walk up to people and start conversations, which can help them meet lots of new people and take advantage of all the networking opportunities at a conference.
As an introvert you may still need more “down time” than your extroverted friend, and that’s ok, but having someone to walk around with may help you meet more people than if you tried to go it alone.
I’m definitely an extrovert and I like hanging around with my introverted friends at a conference as it also gives me time to do my extroverted thing without having to compete. 🙂
When an introvert and an extrovert pair up for networking events, it can help both succeed!
Have a Plan and a Goal Beforehand
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on how FinCon went, I can say without a doubt that having a goal can make a HUGE difference in your conference experience.
I didn’t have a concrete goal this year. My previous two FinCon’s were centered around networking and getting more clients, but this year, I didn’t have any need to really network. I just wanted to catch up with friends and meet new and interesting people.
Unfortunately, that probably wasn’t worth the money I spent attending. You should be smart about any business, career, or side hustle investment (if it’s not being paid for by your employer) – that means making sure it pays off.
Having a goal makes that possible. I highly recommend thinking about why you want to attend the conference or convention you have in mind, and writing down at least three things you want to accomplish while you’re there.
If you’re going with friends or coworkers, share your three goals with them so you can be held accountable. Check in on your progress throughout the conference so you can get back on track (conferences can get crazy busy – it’s very easy to forget your purpose while there!).
Also, make sure these goals are specific. Don’t just say “I want to talk with 10 possible connections.” Look at the attendee list, if it’s available, and pick 10 people you want to “target.” Send them emails and see if they’re available to meet while there.
This makes your plans and goals much more concrete, and if you’re an introvert, it also gives you an extra push since you can’t really back out of a meeting once it’s scheduled!
Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out
Like I mentioned during this week’s episode, introverts can benefit by standing out from the crowd at networking events which will allow people to come to you instead of the other way around.
You don’t have to change your hair or your clothes or buy a new pair of shoes if that’s not you, but just embracing your own individuality can help.
Erin dyed her hair purple (not for the conference of course, but because she wanted to), and we ran into a guy who wore neon yellow jeans at last year’s conference and a man who wore light orange shoes at this year’s event. Maybe you might want to wear your favorite pair of shoes or your favorite colorful dress instead of wearing typical business casual clothing to a fun networking event.
Maybe you can design a unique type of business card, or wear a shirt with an interesting saying on it. Some people create merchandise with their brand or company’s name on it like bags, t-shirts, and other swag. This is just an option and can get pricey if you do it often but my point is that there are plenty of ways to stand out.
Another simple way you can stand out is by putting your picture on your business card so people can put a face to your name when following up. You can also make sure you’re having memorable conversations and taking notes right after them.
If you talk to someone who tells you a funny story about their daughter’s ballet recital, make sure you jot that down and store it in your back pocket so you can tie it into your follow up if need be.
As long as you are having unique and memorable introductions and conversations with other people, you’ll have a better time growing your network.
Do you have any networking tips? Which one of these tips would you be most likely to try?.