Networking is crucial to increase your connections in the industry and I have learned a few lessons from networking with other people at virtual and in-person conferences.
I will share a few tips that will help you network better at conferences.
To network effectively, you have to know your goal in attending this conference. Is it purely educational - watching keynotes and attending workshops? Is it to network with employers and hopefully land a job? Is it to find investors for your startup or potential partners?
Knowing your goals help you stay focused and strategize around your desires. However, I recommend that do not miss out on opportunities because you are too focused on your goals. If you are going to a conference for landing a job, don't disregard the workshops and keynotes and vice versa!
Research the people and companies that you aim to network with. For example, if Person A from Company B is going to be there to give a keynote, go to that keynote, listen well and talk about it with Person A and also mention your interests in Company B by subtly throwing in something that made you curious about that company to make you seem knowledgable.
Also, think of conversation starters you could use for each company/person.
In in-person events, be mindful of your body language and movements. Do not go to one corner in the room and hide away! I know it can be intimidating to be there, but if you are there in the first place, you share few hobbies and interests with some of these people and you can find someone that can become a friend or a good contact. Also, sign up for extra activities like mini events! Believe me, people love to get off the constant business formal networking and being a part of fun event with some other people can be refreshing.
In case of virtual events, make sure your bio stays updated and relevant. Use a good profile image (professional) and include your social media handles! It is a great conversation starter. Also, put yourself out there. When you attend workshops, ask a question or give a comment.
Share that you participated in social media/blog/linkedin. This way, people already in your social media network know that you were there and if someone from your network was already there, it is a great way too improve your connection!
At the end of the day or right after making a new connection, take note of the person you spoke to, summary of what you talked about (not in full length, just something that can make it memorable), where they were from. You can write this behind their business card if you met in-person, or in an excel spreadsheet if it was a virtual meeting.
Afterwards, follow up with a thank you email including that something that made your conversation memorable so they can remember you. If you are in job search, you can mention in the email that you would love if they could take a look at your resume and let you know about any opportunities that could rise.
It is not that scary, people! Go out there and rock it:)