Inspiring keynote speakers. Informative breakout sessions. Incredible networking opportunities. What’s not to love about our Sage events? Whether you are attending our Sage Partner Summit, Sage Summit US, or one of our Sage Sessions, here are some networking tips to help you develop new relationships and discover new business opportunities.
Start connecting before the conference
As the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm.” Get in touch with other attendees by sending them an email or inviting them out for a pre-event lunch or coffee. If you are not sure who will be in attendance, or you are from out of town, use social media to do your pre-event networking. Engage with people on social media by using the event hashtag to let them know you are coming to the conference. Then make plans to do a meet and greet with them at the event.
Bring your business cards
Remember those small rectangular pieces of cardboard that has your name, company, and contact information? Yep, you will be needing those. Pack more than you think you need and don’t forget to pass them out to the people you connect with. Quick tip: Every time you receive a business card jot down some notes regarding your conversation or how you can help each other. Those notes will be very useful when you are following up after the conference.
No longer have a physical business card? No problem! In your phone contacts create a professional vCard for yourself with your business details including company, work email, website, and social handles, if any. At the conference, after you make a new connection you can quickly text them your business card.
Introduce yourself with your badge
Your badge is more than just your entrance into the conference. It’s a relationship builder and conversation starter. With one quick glance, a fellow conference attendee can learn your name and where you work, which can lead to any number of conversation topics. Make sure all the information on your badge is accurate and spelled correctly.
Another bonus to name badges – it helps you remember the names of the people you just met. We’ve all had that moment of having a great conversation with someone at an event, only to forget their name a few minutes later. Sneaking a peek at their name badge will save you from that embarrassing moment of asking for their name again.
Use your surroundings to start a conversation
Some of the best networking at a conference takes place during the “in-between” moments such as coffee breaks, five minutes before a breakout session starts, or even waiting in the bathroom line. Those mini moments are perfect opportunities to expand your network.
But it can be a bit daunting to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, especially if you are an introvert like me. To make things easier, use your surroundings as a conversation starter. A simple, “What brings you to the conference?” could be the start a new business relationship.
Here are some other conversation starter suggestions:
“Have you been to this conference before?”
“What did you think about the keynote?”
“Which breakout sessions are your planning to attend?”
“What are you hoping to learn from the conference?”
Sit with people you don’t know
Conferences are a great way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a while. They provide built in social opportunities, making it easy for you to catch up with a former colleague over a cup of coffee or at dinner. If you are not careful you could spend the entire conference rekindling old relationships and not starting any new ones.
Be intentional about meeting new people. Sit next to someone you don’t know in the breakout sessions and introduce yourself. Ask them what they are hoping to learn from the session. Maybe you have a suggestion that can help them tackle their business challenge.
Meet the sponsors and speakers
Speaking of meeting new people, our sponsors and event speakers are people too. Can you imagine giving a talk in front of a roomful of people and not getting any feedback? If you heard something that resonated with you or sparked a new idea feel free to share it with our speakers when you see them milling about the conference or after a breakout session.
You can find our sponsors on the conference show floor displaying the products and services that can help your business grow. There are plenty of opportunities, including morning and afternoon breaks, to have a chat with them and learn more. If you are interested in their product or service, make sure they scan your badge so they can follow up with you for product demos and other information. You can also keep in touch with them by following their social media handles.
Use the hashtag and the event app during the conference
Not everyone can attend a Sage conference, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share the excitement with them.
Tweet your insights, post your photos, share your favorite quotes from the keynote on your social handles – just remember to use the event hashtag found in your agenda or in the event app.
If you post pictures with any new contacts, make sure you tag them – it’s a great way to expand your network and stay connected.
View live conference updates from our Twitter feed in the event app. From the event app you can also find the conference agenda, plan your event schedule and see the list of sponsors and attendees.
Meeting new people is great. Staying in touch is even better.
Hopefully you had the opportunity to make some great connections at the conference. When you return home, before you get back into your daily work routine, set aside some time to follow up with the people you met.
There is no wrong or right way to follow-up. You can send them an email. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter. Invite them out for coffee. The most important thing is to simply follow-up.
You, and the connections you form, are the secret ingredient to a great conference.