My bags are packed and I’m heading out the door for the national eWomen Network Conference in Dallas. This will be more than a conference experience for me it’s a chance to be named North America’s Next Greatest Speaker. I’ve made it into the Top 10 semifinalists and am looking forward to speaking on stage Thursday, as I try to advance to the final round. Go here and read the Press Release.
Making the most of a conference experience requires thinking ahead and making a game plan before you arrive on site. Many attendees will glance at the list of presenters and breakout sessions and plan their day accordingly. The planning and strategy shouldn’t stop there. What are you going to do make the most of the conversations you’ll have during the conference? How do you manage mingling in such a large crowd?
Here are a few strategies based on my experience as a sports broadcaster for ROOT Sports in Seattle. I know how to get the information I need, even if I’m working in a large crowd and meeting people, or in my case athletes, for the first time.
- Don’t overthink the introduction. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make a good impression or trying to stand out from the crowd. A simple ‘Hi, how’s your day going?” works perfectly. Be friendly and be willing to take the first step.
- Add a personal touch. When you’re speaking to someone do your best to address them by their first name. It might mean taking a second to read their nametag. You are not required to remember the name of every person you meet. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. The nametags are there for your use. Getting on a first name basis is personal. It’s one of the things that will make a multimillion dollar athlete stop and stare, knowing that he’s not being treated as a commodity or a number. It can have that kind of impact in your conversations too.
- Recognize time and place. It’s expected that networking will happen in a conference setting, but know when to make your pitch and when to lay the foundation for a future conversation. An ill-timed elevator speech or sales pitch won’t be effective and could end up doing more harm than good.
- Establish a connection point. This should be something that is outside of “shop talk.” The purpose is to have something to refer back to when you connect after the conference. It’s a little nugget of information that can jog a memory and allow you to pick up where you left off.
- Active listening is an art. This applies to everyone, but it’s meant to be an encouragement to the less verbose and more introverted personalities. If you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a step back from the energy of a conversation or group. You can easily stay involved and make connections without saying a word. Become and active listener, pay attention to what’s being said and follow-up later. You could easily say, “I had a chance to think about what you said…” and have a conversation away from the hustle and bustle of the conference.
These techniques will help you make more connections, increase your follow-up opportunities and ensure you’re getting the most out of your conference experience.
See you in Dallas!
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, helps business professionals understand the sports conversations that happen every day at work. She’s also helping them climb the corporate ladder through her program “What Do I Say?” Jen’s practical approach helps professionals join the conversations, sound intelligent, and understand how their communication skills can make ’em or break ’em in business. Her conversation strategy comes from her 12 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. Jen is available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops. Contact email@example.com for more information and read more at http://talksportytome.com
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