You can’t win a marathon by sprinting.
In the past few posts we’ve talked about the general concepts of how to network effectively at the convention. We’ve looked at the people you’ll meet and how to connect with them. We’ve dealt with the difficulty of how to structure your time and networking goals at such a large event by looking at it as a series of smaller gatherings so as not to be overwhelmed.
Now for a few last ideas that might help you successfully navigate the potential pitfalls.
The first concept is that, unlike your networking events back on your home turf, you actually have a lot more time than you think. Look at it this way: Assuming you normally attend, on average, two networking events a week, each one lasting about two hours, you average about four hours of networking per week.
If this is a three-day event with ten hours of scheduled programming (not unusual) and other networking opportunities, that’s about thirty hours of networking potential — close to eight times what you might ordinarily do.
Imagine doing eight weeks of networking in a single weekend.
That said, you can scale back your networking goals from what you might ordinarily choose. Maybe instead of trying to meet three new people at lunch, you might aim to meet just two or even one. Treat this as a marathon whereas normally a networking event can seem like more of a sprint.
OK, now you’re feeling a little more relaxed about the process, it’s time to feel a little bit of stress because you have less time than you think!
Yes, I’m messing with you a little bit. What I mean is, you are in the middle of a bunch of people whom you won’t normally see. At best they’re probably from a different town, but they might be from a different state or even a different country. This is your chance to talk with them face-to-face. You probably won’t have this chance again until next year. If you meet someone new and you’re enjoying the conversation, why not ask them if they’d like to join you for lunch or dinner?
Maybe you could even introduce them to someone else you already know.
Final word of advice: You can’t do it all.
No matter how much you network or how high you set your goals, you can’t meet everyone. Just accept that. Be focused in your networking. Choose reasonable targets. Most of all, be sure you carve out a little time for yourself.
Give yourself permission to skip one of the breakout sessions. Take a meal in your room. Just take ten minutes to sit quietly and absorb everything that’s going on around you and what you’ve experienced. Taking these short breaks can re-energize you and make your networking that much more effective.
Good luck on your next convention. Put yourself out there, talk with the people around you, and make the connections. remember, the relationships you build while on the road can lead to the successes you find when you return home.
Photo by William Warby