I’m personally attending a couple conferences in the next month and I’m also hosting an afternoon one in my hometown, Creating The “Buzz” In Social Media.
I hope to make new friends and help others make some connections that they have not been able to make. It’s no secret that many folks that are involved in social media are introverts, so when the opportunity is placed out there to interact in person, it’s easy to freeze up. Here are five tips to help you meet new friends when attending a conference.
And if you don’t think you can meet new friends at a conference, think again! It’s been through networking events in North Iowa that Jeni of JeniEats , Beth Ann of It’s Just Life, Finding The Extraordinary In The Ordinary, myself and Donna of Donnahup.com have became good friends!
#1: Be Yourself
You are probably saying, “Of course I will be myself.” Seriously, don’t spend hours trying to change who you are. Wear clothes that you know fit and are comfortable. Chances are you have a beautiful profile picture on your social media platforms, so it’s also not the time to get a fancy new haircut. Be yourself and who you are! If you can do that, things will fall into place.
#2: Shake Hands
When you meet someone new, provided you don’t have a cold, reach out to shake their hand. A personal connection, with a hand shake and eye contact goes a long way.
#3: Introduce yourself to a stranger
A conference is one place you don’t want to think about stranger danger. The attendees have spent money and taken the time to come to this event and are probably there for the same reasons you are. If you need to practice your Elevator Pitch, do it before you leave home! BTW- An elevator pitch is a short introduction of who you are and what you do.
#4: Invent Your Own Schedule
You should stick to a schedule for an event that is only a few hours. If the event is a couple days or more, it may benefit you to step away from the conference schedule to meet face to face with someone you’ve been wanting to get to know better. Keep in mind, most conferences don’t allow the participation of passing out swag or attending off site parties- understand the rules of the conference you are attending, before you make plans. I have found some of the best networking I have done is through conversations in a hallway that have lasted a couple hours.
#5: Ask for Business Cards And/Or Social Media Connections
Hand someone your business card and ask for theirs. I personally appreciate it when someone says, “Hey, can we follow each other right now?” Both attendees take out their smart phones and connect with each other on the spot- makes the connection super easy! Business cards work, but it’s no secret that they do get misplaced.
Most importantly go to a conference with an open mind and be prepared to meet new people. If you feel like you have had to step out of your comfort zone, that means your money and time have been well invested!
So, tell me! What’s the last conference you attended and did you meet new friends?
Thank you to Bill Schickel of KCMR Studios for the picture!