Apr 02, 2016 08:38 AM EDT

Network Like A Pro At A Conference

By R S Ali

Conferences are, in essence, a gigantic networking opportunity. You've got a huge number of important or potentially important people under the same roof, with a common goal: getting to know each other and forming mutually beneficial relationships. But if you're not a natural at this, worry not. Monster suggests some tips to work a conference to your networking advantage.

Don't be a conference commoner. Don't be the observer or the passive audience in a seminar. Make sure your time and money (or your organization's) is well spent and you get a return on it, and to do that, all you have to do is make some useful contacts.
Here are five tips from the experts:

1. Remember the obvious: planning.

Proper planning prevents poor performance. Military strategists know that, planners know that, professionals know it too. Figure out where and when and how you will do what you want, and you will be at an insurmountable advantage.

So focus. Take the time well in advance to think it all through and write down your goals. What do you want? Who do you want to meet? Articulate clearly what it is that you are after, and then plan how you will get it.

2. Know the audience

Work on getting a list of people attending the conference somehow. Call the organizers; ask your boss or colleagues or friends. This is important.

Know your target(s). Note those you want to meet. Then try keeping the list on your person and tracking who you have left to meet.

3. Remember: the early bird gets the worm

Be early in general: plan early, come on time and don't wait for events to get started. Make things happen.

If you can't be proactive, at least be early so you have enough time to observe what is happening and taking your time to be comfortable enough to strike before the conference is over and the opportunity is gone.

4. Talk

Yes, it's difficult to talk when you're shy. But don't just attend a conference. You don't necessarily have to be a keynote speaker with your name on the program; or give hour-long infomercials of your brand.

You could start small by presenting a 30-second commercial for your company. You could just ask a thoughtful question and get an important discussion started. You will be remembered. 

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