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Welcome to Fall. The season of changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything, cooler temperatures (hopefully), and conferences!  

Conferences give us all a great opportunity to meet new people and network, but they can also be an overwhelming and nerve-racking endeavor, often because of the expectation to network.  

First, let’s consider why networking matters. Frequently people equate networking to something you do when you want a new job, but that’s actually not the best time to start. You want to begin building relationships long before then. Previously, we’ve shared how to set yourself up for success and networking plays a big role in that. Networking with others in your industry can provide you with the ability to knowledge share, keep up with trends, and discover new strategies, and it provides you with a support system of like-minded professionals who understand your challenges and can offer guidance and advice. 

To make it a little easier as you head to your next networking event, let’s distill it down to a few key things to keep top-of-mind this season:


Make yourself memorable.

People can’t think of you if they don’t know what you do, so practice your elevator pitch and make it compelling. Maybe there is an interesting project you recently worked on, or your firm is doing something exciting – have a few anecdotes at the ready that will help someone remember you when you walk away from your conversation.

Be authentic.

Authenticity is key to making a lasting impression. Be genuine, honest, and true to yourself. People are more likely to remember someone who is real and relatable. You can do this by finding a mutual interest or common ground. This could be work related, but it might now, but sharing a fun trip you recently took, or plans you have for an upcoming holiday can be great ways to connect.

Ask questions.

Focus on active listening and ask open-ended questions. Being curious is a great way to get to know someone, and often will give you a great tidbit to use for follow up.

Follow up and stay in touch.

It’s great to meet someone at a conference, but you can’t forge an ongoing relationship if that’s your only interaction. Follow up by connecting on LinkedIn and consider including a personal note to the connection request. Reference something specific from your conversation to jog their memory. This shows that you value the connection and were actively engaged during your interaction. Check in with your new connections every so often – send the occasional update, share interesting articles, or simply check in to see how they’re doing.

Be a resource.

Networking isn’t just about what the other person can do for you, it’s also about what you can offer. Be willing to share resources, offer assistance, or serve as a connector to introduce people who could benefit from knowing each other. People are more likely to feel like the connection is genuine if you’re not always asking what they can do for you.

And my biggest piece of advice: PRACTICE! Say your elevator pitch out loud to yourself, jot down big projects you’re working on to keep them top of mind, and just get out there and introduce yourself to people. The goal is not to collect a massive number of contacts but to cultivate meaningful connections. It can feel daunting, but everyone there is in the same boat, and if you approach it with the mindset of building valuable relationships, people will be excited to meet you!  

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