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How to Network at a Conference - 22 Proven Strategies in 2023

Attending conferences allows you to meet like-minded individuals, industry experts, and potential partners all under one roof. 

However, navigating a conference while networking effectively requires a well-thought-out approach.

How to find the balance and not sound too salesy but also not too indifferent or shy?

Read on as we leave no stone unturned and share 22 proven strategies on how to network at a conference.

Let’s dig in!

Top 5 Benefits To Gain from Networking at a Conference

1. Knowledge Exchange

Since conferences gather professionals and experts from various fields, they provide multifold opportunities to exchange ideas, insights, and industry knowledge.

Furthermore, they provide a fresh perspective and the latest trends and developments in your field.

2. Building Meaningful Relationships

Offering a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, potential collaborators, mentors, etc., means that you can gradually start building and nurturing genuine and lasting connections.

3. Career Advancement

One of the great perks of networking at conferences is that it can open doors to new career opportunities.

Thus, you may discover job openings, receive referrals, or even find potential business partners or investors who can help advance your career or business ventures.

4. Increased Visibility

You can increase your visibility within your industry or profession by actively participating in conference networking events and discussions. 

In addition, this can enhance your reputation, making you a recognized expert in your field.

5. Access to Resources and Support

Networking can provide you with access to valuable resources, such as:

  • research materials, 
  • tools, or 
  • even financial support through partnerships or sponsorships. 

What’s more, networking can offer emotional and professional support through the connections you build.

22 Proven Strategies to Elevate Conference Networking

1. Pre-Conference Preparation

Before the conference begins, do your homework:

  • Research the speakers, attendees, and exhibitors.
  • Connect with fellow attendees on social media platforms
  • Join relevant groups or forums. 

The pre-conference preparation will help you identify key individuals you want to meet, and it will help you prepare valuable conversation starters when the conference comes.

ProTip: With digital solutions, Tapni being one of them, you can easily share your profile link and exchange relevant info with other conferencegoers.

tapni

2. Set Clear Goals

Defining your networking objectives for the conference is paramount because it will help you focus on more meaningful networking instead of running around aimlessly.

The main question to ask yourself is why you are there. 

  • Are you looking to establish new business partnerships?
  • Do you want to recruit talent?
  • Are you interested in learning from industry leaders?

Having clear goals will guide your interactions and make your networking efforts more effective.

3. Craft Elevator Pitch

A well-prepared elevator pitch can serve as an excellent icebreaker in networking conversations.

Therefore, craft a concise and engaging elevator pitch introducing yourself, your expertise, and what you want to achieve at the conference.

craft-elevator-pitch

ProTip:

Did you know that Tapni offers the so-called Custom links so that you can send your new contacts to a profile or an event landing page you wish them to see?

custom-link-tapni

4. Attend Workshops and Breakout Sessions

Participating in these smaller, more intimate settings makes it less challenging to break the ice with both speakers and attendees who share your interests.

Thus, it is much easier to forge meaningful connections and potential collaborations.

In addition, participating in workshops provides great hands-on experience and learning opportunities

5. Stay in The Conference-Recommended Lodging

In case the conference spans over a few days, it is a good idea to stay in a hotel where the conference takes place or in the conference-recommended lodging.

This way, you’ll increase the chances of running into other attendees or speakers so you can connect with them more naturally and informally.

6. Plan a Personal Schedule

Although it sounds tempting to join every workshop or session during the conference, prioritize the ones most beneficial for you.

In addition, skipping not-so-important sessions will give you more time to socialize and network in one of the conferences’s common areas.

7. Use Digital Business Cards

Business cards have always been a networking staple, but digital ones have changed the networking landscape.

Not only do they enable a quick info exchange, but they are also:

Cost effective - They are a one-time investment, and you can update and share them at no additional cost.

Interactive - Offer rich media integration by incorporating multimedia elements like images, videos, and links to your website or social media profiles.

Updated in real-time -  You can update your contact information so your contacts can always access your most current details.

Easy to share - You can easily share them through QR codes and digital channels like email, messaging apps, and social media.

Highly customizable - You can tailor the design, layout, and content to match your branding and personal style, helping you make a memorable impression.

tapni-card

While “collecting” as many business cards as possible is tempting, engage in conversations first to get to know the other person and their goals.

ProTip: One of Tapni’s coolest features is automatically sending messages to people visiting your profile.

8. Make Notes

Writing personal notes on traditional business cards you collect is a great way to remind yourself later of your conversations and the people you met.

ProTip: If you use Tapni, you can immediately group and regroup new contacts according to the desired filters and tags.

form-tapni

9.  Make Use of Conference Networking Apps

Conference networking apps are extremely practical for virtual networking events and include features ranging from video and audio calls, and text messaging to file and screen sharing, etc.

Furthermore, they allow you to view the conference schedule and speaker profiles and receive real-time updates.

ProTip: A conference networking app, Tapni, collects attendees’ data and sends them directly to your CRM, such as Hubspot, Salesforce, etc.

connect-menagement

10. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. On the contrary, asking relevant questions shows you are genuinely interested in the topic and your co-speaker. 

In addition, it shows you want to learn more about a certain topic.

11. Be a Good Listener

Effective networking isn't just about talking - it's also about listening. 

Therefore, show genuine interest in others by actively listening to their stories and experiences. 

It will not only strengthen your connections but also help you identify opportunities for collaboration or support.

12. Share Your Knowledge

Offering your expertise through presentations, panel discussions, or workshops can boost your visibility and credibility.

Moreover, sharing your knowledge fosters meaningful connections with others who have similar interests or challenges. 

Consequently, it can lead to valuable personal and professional relationships as you provide value to others by offering insights, advice, or solutions.

13. Attend Social Events

Many conferences include cocktail parties, dinners, or networking mixers

types-of-events

These informal gatherings provide excellent opportunities for more relaxed and open conversations. Don't skip them!

14. Don’t Forget Old Connections

If you are regular at conferences and similar events, there is a big chance you’ll encounter familiar faces. 

Nurturing relationships with these “old” contacts is also very important since it can help you build more meaningful relationships, as well as tap into each other’s network.

15. Share Network

Sharing your network at conferences can be highly beneficial for both you and the people you introduce:

🔥 Fosters Professional Relationships - When you introduce two people who have complementary skills or interests, you become a valuable connector within your industry.

🔥 Builds Trust - By introducing individuals within your network, you demonstrate trust in their abilities and character, which can reflect positively on your reputation and credibility.

🔥 Creates a Supportive Community -  It leads to shared knowledge, resources, and opportunities that benefit everyone involved.

🔥 Expands Your Own Network - When you introduce people, they often reciprocate by introducing you to their own contacts. 

By doing so, you expand your own network, opening doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and insights.

🔥 Strengthens Personal Brand - Being known as someone willing to share their network showcases your generosity and willingness to contribute to the success of others.

16. Know When and How to Leave a Conversation

Knowing when and how to exit a conversation gracefully is a valuable skill that allows you to make meaningful connections without making others uncomfortable.


When to Leave:


  • Natural Breaks: Look for natural breaks in the conversation, such as when someone finishes a point or pauses the discussion. 

    This way, you can exit without interrupting.

  • Time Limit: If you set a time limit for your conversations (e.g., spending 10 minutes with each person), politely excuse yourself when the time is up. 

    You can say, "It's been great talking with you, but I promised myself I'd meet a few more people before the event ends."

  • Intuitive Signals: Pay attention to non-verbal cues from the other person.

    If they start looking around the room or seem disengaged, it may be a sign that they're also ready to move on.

  • When the Conversation Lulls: If the conversation has naturally run its course and there's an awkward silence, you can gracefully exit by saying, "It was lovely talking with you; I hope you enjoy the rest of the event."

  • When You've Achieved Your Goals: If you've achieved your networking objectives with a particular person (e.g., exchanged contact information, learned something valuable), you can politely wrap up the conversation by expressing your gratitude and explaining that you'd like to meet other attendees.

    How to Leave:


    • Express Gratitude: Always express gratitude for the conversation. Thank the person for their time and insights because it leaves a positive impression.

    • Offer to Connect Later: If you want to continue the relationship, offer to connect later. 

      You can say, "I've really enjoyed our conversation. Let's exchange contact information, and we can continue the discussion sometime."

    • Exit Politely: Keep your exit simple and polite. For example, "It's been a pleasure talking with you. I'll let you enjoy the event now."

    • Introduce Them to Others: If you see someone nearby who would benefit from connecting with the person you're talking to, you can introduce them. 

      Afterall, it is a great way to facilitate connections and exit gracefully.

    • Have a Reason: If you need a reason to exit, you can say, 

      "I’ve just noticed someone I've been wanting to catch up with. It was great meeting you, and I hope to see you around."

    • Body Language: Use open body language that signals your intention to leave. Step back slightly, maintain eye contact, and smile as you exit.

    • Be Honest: If the conversation isn't going well or you feel it's not a beneficial connection, you can politely express that it's been nice talking but that you'd like to meet some other people at the event.

    17. Follow-Up

    Don’t forget to follow up with the contacts you made. 

    Therefore, send personalized emails or LinkedIn messages to express your appreciation for their time and interest in maintaining the connection. 

    Remember that turning initial meetings into lasting relationships is almost impossible without this step.

    ProTip: Tapni’s Business Profile connects your profile to your CRM and sets reminders on your phone to follow up with your new contacts, attendees, etc.

    Before we wrap things up, we have 5 bonus tips for you.

    5 Instant Tips When Networking

    Be Confident.

    ✅ Take breaks.

    Add a personal touch to your conversations.

    ✅ Bring personal items such as notebooks, pens, snacks, etc.

    Repeat names out loud so you can remember them better.

    Wrapping It Up

    Networking at conferences is all about being strategic, prepared, and genuine. Furthermore, it's about building relationships that can benefit your professional growth and success in the long run.

    And one digital solution can help you maximize networking opportunities. 

    Enter, Tapni!

    Why Choose Tapni?

    At first sight, Tapni is a digital business card provider, but there is so much more beneath the surface.

    Tapni is also a robust lead generation and conference app that helps businesses make the most out of networking events.

    Therefore, Tapni provides:

    💣Analytics tools - Show actionable analytics to measure ROI at events, reward top performers, see the number of visits, etc.

    💣 Instant messaging-  Automatically send a message to all the attendees that have contacted you or visited your profile.

    💣 Customizable links - You can include video links, social media links, website links, etc., catering to your new contacts.

    💣 Direct links - You can direct your contacts to the social media channel of your choice.

    direct-link-tapni

    💣and so much more.

    However, we can’t finish the story about Tapni without mentioning its latest product - Tapni Custom Standee.

    tapni-standee

    The Tapni Standee is a great addition to your front desk, checkout counter, or trade show booth. 

    And with just a simple tap or scan, customers can :

    🔥 Make quick and secure contactless payments.

    🔥 Leave reviews.

    🔥 Follow you on social media

    🔥 Sign up to your email list

    🔥 Be directed to your website or learn about special offers.

    Ready to tap into Tapni and discover more?

    Download the Tapni app today and boost the way you network.

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