For healthcare talent management professionals, business events like Talent Symposium, our annual conference, can provide invaluable networking opportunities. Such conferences allow you to interact with a variety of experienced, knowledgeable attendees who face the same challenges you do. Learn how to make connections and get the most out of any professional event with these networking tips.
Networking Tip #1: Get a Head Start by Making a Plan
Every successful conference networking initiative begins with proper planning. Avoid stretching yourself too thin or wandering around paralyzed by indecision with a plan. This will help you to navigate the many conflicting events and logistical issues inherent to any big gathering.
Use materials provided by the organizers, social media connections, and your existing network to find out who else is going to be attending that you absolutely must meet in person — and where and when you can potentially meet them. Make sure you carry detailed notes with you about your potential contacts, so you’ll be prepared with talking points whenever an opportunity occurs.
Networking Tip #2: Outline a Schedule and Try to Stick to It
The possibilities at the start of a conference can seem both exciting and daunting. You are no doubt going to want to catch up with friends and acquaintances, expand your network, and take advantage of the many learning opportunities available.
It’s understandable to want to maximize your time, but it’s also important to build a schedule that makes sense and won’t lead to burnout. This way, you’ll be able to give the appropriate amount of time to the people you meet and won’t be forced to end conversations abruptly in order to rush to your next engagement. It will also give you a chance to process all the great learnings.
Networking Tip #3: Focus on Quality Instead of Quantity
Meeting with 10 different people who can provide value to you or your organization is a better use of your time than briefly chatting with 100 people who don’t have any applicable advice or experiences to share. Keep this in mind as you map out your strategy and try to focus your efforts on quality connections and events that have the most upside.
This is true both for you and for fellow attendees. Remember that while your time is valuable, so is everyone else’s, so do your best to ensure everyone can maximize time in their own way.
Networking Tip #4: Give Your Contacts Your Full Attention
There will be a lot going on at every professional event you attend. Always give your full attention to the person with whom you’re speaking. If someone — whether the keynote speaker or a vendor — is taking the time to talk to you, then they absolutely deserve your attention. Avoid the temptation to glance around the room, looking for other contacts on your most-wanted list.
Networking Tip #5: Remember That Most People Are Eager to Help
Many people who don’t have experience with large networking situations are hesitant to put themselves out there for fear of being seen as a nuisance. But all that happens is they end up wasting valuable opportunities by not taking advantage of people who are willing to give and share.
As long as you’re respectful and considerate of their time, you’ll find that most people are happy and even eager to help you out when you ask for it. Others have certainly helped them throughout their careers as well, and most successful people want to share the same benefits they have received along the way.
Networking Tip #6: Follow Up After the Conference Ends
Follow-up communication is always appropriate in a networking setting, both as a way to show appreciation for your contact’s time and as a signal that you hope to continue the relationship going forward. Make sure you reach out to all your new contacts in a timely and appropriate manner (digital communication is fine for shorter interactions, but consider sending handwritten notes to those who spent significant time with you) once you’re back home.