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Monday, September 10, 2012

Networking events: 14 tips from Anna Persson

Not disclosing all my blogger secret, I can share one of my favorite method to write a post:  I start a new post with a word document with a title and a couple of direction lines and let it sleep for a while. When I have the article in mind, I write it down. 
Following my method, I started few days ago a paper on networking during events but in the meantime, I read the post of Anna Persson who is running her company 360entrepreneurship in Sweden, about networking at conferences. Nothing to add: It is complete, clear , fully transferable to Swiss events. Let me thank Anna and share it with you:

by Anna Persson on September 2nd, 2012
Conferences and workshops are great places to meet the right people and start new business relationships. Here are some tips to help you connect with others at a business event. Networking today could mean business opportunities tomorrow.
Pre-conference preparation
1. Have a plan. People you want to meet (directly or the type of people), speakers you want to hear, and the exhibition stands you want to visit.
2. Blog or tweet about the fact that you’re going. Blog about the sessions you’re planning to attend. Find out the Twitter tag for the conference. Look up the speakers and some of the other participants’ blogs.
3. Set appointments in advance. If you know that there will be people attending whom you know that you would like to see, call or email a few weeks in advance to schedule a time to meet for coffee, a meal, or a drink.
During the conference
4. Talk to the people sitting next to you. Say hello and introduce yourself before the presentation starts. It’s a bit like sitting next to someone new on a plane. Unless you say something in the first few minutes you won’t say anything to each other at all. Right? Each day aim to sit next to new people.
5. Introduce others. When you meet cool people, be the one who connects them with others who might be beneficial to them.
6. Ask questions in  the Q& A’s. A good way of being noticed is to ask a question in the Q&A’s following a presentation. Stand up, and if someone is bringing you a microphone, wait for it before ask your question so that everybody can hear what you are saying. Start by stating your name and the  company/organisation you represent if your think that is important. Keep you question short and be specific! People always came up to me in the break and start talking to me about what I’d asked. Instantly easy.
7. Ask other people questions. Let’s face it, people are more interested in themselves that they are in you. So by asking questions, showing people you are interested in them, they’d be more likely to listen to your elevator speech when it’s your turn.
8. Guide the conversations. Use engaging, open end questions:
  • What do you think about that session?
  • What else are you looking forward to attending?
  • What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt at the conference so far?
  • Follow it by asking them how or why they got into their line of work and you might find yourself having an interesting and memorable conversations. Keep an ear out for things you can help with or people you can introduce.
Take advantage of the breaks
9. Put away your technology. The golden opportunity to network and start conversations, so don’t spend time attending to your phone, laptop etc. The signal you’re sending is that you are busy and not approachable.
10. Conference buddies. If you have a networking buddy, conferences are much nicer. They can step in and introduce themselves in order to elicit a name from someone you don’t want to admit you’ve forgotten.
11. Food & Drink. Conversation is easier when having some of the food (make a conversation about it). However it’s hard to talk with a mouth full, and it’s tricky to circulate with a plate full of stuff so take it easy.
After the conference
12. Follow up. Send the people you connected with, an email. Tell them you enjoyed the conversation and if it’s the right thing to do, suggest a follow up conversation.
13. Good practice for connecting with on Social Media. Bear in mind and be respectful of the fact that people might not use social networking the same way you do. Twitter is ok, you don’t need to ask for permission there. Personally I use LinkedIn a lot and I normally ask people I meet if they’d like to connect on Linked and I send them an invitation. A tip is to find out where on Social Media this person “hangs out” and connect with him/her there if that’s the place where you “hang out as well.
14. Blog about what you have learned at the conference.  Your notes will come in handy and write a post-conference summary.
A conference can be pricey and you also set aside your valuable time so make sure you make the most of it!
Read more about Anna Persson HERE

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Sandrine van den Oudenhoven
job4U2, "relocation is a project for both"

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