5 Tips to Effectively Network at a Business Conference

Every year, thousands upon thousands of business conferences and trade shows are scheduled in locations throughout the United States.

For example, here is a comprehensive list of the top 250 US trade shows. For events like CES, thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of attendees show up to learn, sell, and of course, network with others.

It doesn’t matter if you attend one business conference a year or find yourself at several of these each month, nothing changes the fact that you want to get the most “bang for your buck.” This means many things, including a focus on networking with as many people as possible.

With this in mind, here are five tips that will allow you to effectively network at future business conferences:

1. Be Accessible and Approachable

You can’t network when you’re sitting in your hotel room. You can’t network when your head is always buried in your smartphone or tablet.

If you want to connect with others, you need to be both accessible and approachable. With this approach, you’ll find that others are more than willing to engage.

For example, spend as much time as possible moving around the conference floor. As you do so, keep your head up and make eye contact with others (more on this below). Along with this, don’t be shy about approaching others, such as exhibitors. Remember, they want to network with you as much as you want to network with them.

2. Take a Stack of Business Cards

There are people out there who will tell you that “business cards are dead.” Don’t listen to them. This is still an extremely effective tool when networking at business conferences (and other events).

Don’t be afraid to share your business card with anyone you meet. In fact, you should hand these out as often as possible. Conversely, collect as many of these as you can.

3. Step Outside of the Business Arena

Let’s face it: there is more to attending a business conference than talking about your company and making sales.

If you really want to network, you need to stick around after the day’s events come to an end. For example, invite a few contacts to a nice dinner. Or maybe you take this one step further by scoring some tickets to a local sporting event or show.

Some of the biggest deals are closed when you move away from the business setting and into a friendlier environment.

This is why many conference organizers choose Atlantic City or Las Vegas as their location of choice. Sure, there is a lot of conference space for rent and plenty of available hotel rooms. However, these cities also lend well to people getting together after work events as a means of networking.

4. Use Positive Body Language

The right body language can be the difference between success and failure in the business world. This is particularly true when attending conferences. Here are some tips you should always follow:

  • Stand tall (and wide)
  • Keep your head up
  • Don’t focus your eyes on the ground or ceiling
  • Maintain eye contact when conversing with others
  • Talk with your hands
  • Smile

Does it get any easier than that?

5. Don’t Wait to Follow Up

Once the conference ends and you find yourself back at the office, review your smartphone contacts and business cards. Who do you want to follow up with immediately? Who can wait a bit longer?

You took the time to make first contact at the event. Now, it’s time to take the conversation to the next level.

Conclusion

There is no denying the fact that it can cost quite a bit of money to attend or exhibit at a conference. Even so, you can get a lot in return for your money.

The next time you find yourself at any type of business event, use these five tips to improve the way you network.

Would you add any other tips to this list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Contributed by Chris Bibey.  Chris works as a corporate blog specialist, providing content writing and consulting services to companies of all sizes and industries. If you require any help with your corporate blog, don’t hesitate to reach out:

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