Today marks the start of National Conference on Volunteering and Service sessions! This year’s conference brings thousands of people together. From volunteers to nonprofit leaders NCVS is a great place to network. Not only will you learn about great resources to improve your organization and volunteer work, but also you will meet a great deal of people who can offer you are variety of things from knowledge to professional development.
How will you every find the time to actually network around thousands of people? Today’s blog post features 10 tips that will ensure you success at a big conference.
- Organize a plan of action: Know who you want to meet prior to the actual conference. Plan to register for the sessions featuring speakers that you are interested in. Make sure you know what organization will be there and who will be representing them. Make a schedule for yourself so that you do not miss anybody that you would like to meet.
- Plan ahead: Set appointments with attendees who you would like to meet while at conference. Try emailing or calling the person to see whether or not they have free time to go to lunch with you or have 5 minutes to speak with you before a session. Do not hope that you will run into them, chances are that you will not.
- Do not focus on meeting the big cheese: Try not to focus all your energy on meeting the celebrity speakers, as this opportunity is almost impossible. You will be one of hundreds to speak with that speaker during his session, not creating a very distinct impression. Focus on the other attendees, who know who you will meet and what they may have to offer you.
- Focus on your peers: The person sitting next to you may your greatest networking asset. You never know what they can offer you, right? When you walk into the session, take the time to introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. Find out which organization they are affiliated with to find out about possible job offerings or partnerships. This will become easier, the more that you do it!
- Ask questions: Break the ice by asking attendees questions about themselves. People are more likely to carry on a conversation with you when they feel comfortable.
- Turn off your phones please: Utilize your break time to speak with others. When you quickly run to your laptop or cell phone during break out sessions, people are less likely to approach you because you are giving off the message that you are busy.
- Friend request pending: Do not send a Facebook friend request or LinkedIn invite directly after you meet someone. Ask the person with whom you are speaking with if they would mind accepting an invitation, before you actually send it to them.
- Know their work: Many people are active bloggers or have active social media accounts. Seek out this information prior to conference. Let that person know that you read their blog to break the ice when discussing how you have heard of them.
- Make an introduction: When you meet a cool person share them with others. Introduce this individual to your connections at the conference whom he or she may be interested in based on the questions you have asked previously. Do not think about what is in it for me, rather how can I help you out.
- Follow up: Always thank a person who you connected with at a conference to leave a lasting positive impression on that person. A simple thank you email or handwritten note thanking them for their time spent speaking with you will establish that networked connection. That person may be more willing to help you in your professional endeavors.
We hope that you all have fun in Chicago this week! Remember, you will never have the opportunity to meet new people in a big setting, if you do not step out of your shell.