Networking can be an investment in relationships and reciprocity that helps drive your career or company forward for years to come. We at National Debt Holdings find conference networking to be a great opportunity to build upon valuable industry relationships. Knowing how to direct your interactions can help you maximize your future networking opportunities. Whether you’re new to conferences or you’re feeling like your skills are more dusty than usual, here are some simple tips and reminders to help you make the most of your networking time.
Focus on Quality Connections
Rather than stressing about meeting the entire room, try to focus on making meaningful, quality connections. Be genuine. Conference networking can feel a little hurried. You’re getting to know people, exchanging cards and information, sharing what you each offer, and not necessarily knowing whether the connection will grow.
Due to the condensed nature of conference interactions, there’s a tricky balance between avoiding too much small talk and sparking conversations that could lead to more meaningful connections. Some ideas of how to maximize the time you spend networking include:
- Arrive early to events for a chance to chat with your neighbors and find out what they’ve learned or enjoyed so far.
- Have your “pitch” prepared to succinctly introduce yourself and describe what you offer if someone asks (plan some ways you can tailor it for different audiences).
- Strike up a conversation in the coffee line about the event you’re about to attend or just attended. They may be coming from or going to the same place and have thoughts to share on the walk to the next session.
- Sit with new people at lunch. Don’t just stick to your co-workers, take the opportunity to meet someone new.
- Introduce people you already know to your new connections, and talk about shared interests or hobbies.
Connect Prior to the Conference
If there are specific connections you’d like to make, be sure to reach out to those people ahead of time so you can set up a meeting. Schedules often get booked quickly so try not to wait. LinkedIn is a helpful tool for making connections ahead of time. Be bold and don’t hesitate to invite someone for coffee, dinner, etc. Be flexible with your schedule; Even short conversations may lead to something. People attend a conference expecting to network, so there’s no need to be shy. Just be professional and respectful as always of other people’s schedules.
Do your research on the event. Check the conference website and association social channels so you can use the same hashtags to gain more visibility. Advertise your attendance through your professional profiles/channels. If possible, also advertise your attendance through official company channels/profiles. See where everyone else is announcing attendance. Some associations may send a custom conference image that you can attach to your signature and distribute through professional outlets/channels/profiles. This will increase your visibility, thereby increasing potential invitations to connect. Getting these set up ahead of time will help you plan and schedule your available networking time at the conference.
Follow-Up Is Critical
Part of being intentional is following up, the importance of which we discussed in more detail in our article about building client relationships. Consider your follow-up strategy in advance and tailor it appropriately for new connections you plan to pursue. Honor your word and do what you say you’ll do. For instance, if you’re geographically close enough, schedule a working lunch or site visit for after the conference and see the plans through. If you plan to follow up on LinkedIn or via email, do so sooner than later while you’re still fresh in the mind of your new connection. Utilize downtime in your hotel or while waiting in the airport to help you get a head start on follow-ups before you return home.
Following up is an integral part of building your network and making positive first impressions. By the end of the conference, you might walk away with new business and you might walk away with new friends. Keep in mind that networking (like friendship) is a long-term investment. Introductions and new connections may lead to important conversations or business opportunities weeks, months, or years down the road if you’ve intentionally followed up and nurtured the relationship.
Your Return on Investment
When it comes to conference networking, you don’t always know right away where your new connections will lead, but the value can return in a variety of ways. You might get a business lead, but the return value of your invested time and energy may go deeper than that or be valuable in other ways. For instance, attendees from other companies, other regions of the country/other countries can become valuable resources for referrals, new ways of thinking, solutions, and best practices. Developing professional connections often leads to trusted friendship– an invaluable asset. So be intentional, be authentic, and value people as people.
The National Debt Holdings team is looking forward to attending the Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) Annual Conference in Las Vegas this April 12-15, 2021. If you found any of these suggestions helpful, please stop by and let us know! We will be attending in-person and invite you to reach out to our Business Development Specialist, Melissa Raymond, or our President of Sales and Acquisitions, Ricardo Davila, to set up a meeting.
“We’re looking forward to seeing people we haven’t seen in-person for some time and growing new connections! We always enjoy this conference and are invigorated by the excellent networking opportunities. Whether it’s talking with new partners, creditors, or industry colleagues, we have a passion for helping others succeed and we look forward to discussing challenges and solutions.” shares Mr. Davila.
About National Debt Holdings
National Debt Holdings is a client-centric receivables management firm assisting creditors with improving their cash flow performance from account portfolios. Our team of professionals strives to provide meaningful personal relationships and develop customized financial solutions that create success for everyone while protecting the brand and reputation of clients. NDH is an RMAI Certified Receivables Business and is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.