A guide to leveraging networking at exhibitions to further your career
Networking is often cited as THE biggest reason for attending conferences and exhibitions. After all, we know that in business, it’s often who you know – especially if you’re looking to further your career. Here are a few top tips to help you leverage networking at your next exhibition.
Before the exhibition, get to know where the conversation about the event is being held on social media. Whether that’s an official app that the conference has developed, or a hashtag being used on Twitter or LinkedIn. Follow the conversation and get involved. Tell people that you’re going on your social media accounts and use the official hashtags to make sure that other like-minded people can follow you too.
Follow people that are using the official hashtag and start talking to them about the event. This is often a great way to get the conversation started and have somebody on your list to meet in real life at the event.
Identify who you want to speak to
Whether you have a particular brand in mind that you’d love to talk to, or from your previous perusal of social media, think about who you want to speak to at the event and make a list. Time tends to go pretty quickly at events so it’s important to set yourself an itinerary.
Familiarise yourself with the layout before the event
There’s nothing worse than knowing who you want to talk to at an event then spending half the day wandering around an endless expanse of exhibition stands without finding who you’re looking for. Take a look at the official map, print off a copy and draw up a list of stands that you need to see.
If you’re feeling really organised, you can even set this list in order of priority to make sure that if the day runs away with you that you don’t feel disappointed to have not seen a particular stand or person.
Know where the social events are being held
What could be more conducive to networking than a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? Not much. Keep an eye on dedicated networking areas where like-minded individuals will be gathering with the intention of meeting other people. Some larger exhibitions will have coffee lounges sponsored by big brands, whereas others may have an ‘after party’ or similar event.
After you know who you’re going to meet and where, you next need to make sure that you have your game face ready. Think about what you’re going to wear to best represent yourself (this won’t always be a smart suit) and be armed with business cards to swap and a smile on your face.
Remember that brands on stands will be looking for leads and sales as a priority, so make your pitches quick and make sure you’re speaking to the most relevant person. They’ll appreciate your understanding and be much more obliged to offer a follow-up conversation.