That conference you’ve been waiting for is finally coming up. You’re packed, you have your sessions planned, and are ready to succeed. Legal conferences are filled with opportunity to learn, but also network with other professionals. For some, networking can be intimidating. Even experienced conference attendees may not know how to network at a conference.
In order for you to get the most out of what your next conference has to offer, read through the tips below. They will help you learn how to network at a conference in order to expand your professional circle.
How to Network at a Conference with Legal Professionals
1. Prepare as much as possible in advance.
This may seem like an obvious point, but it is often overlooked how crucial this step is. Not only do you need to do your research, but also mentally preparing as well.
First, you should obtain a list of the attendees and speakers. Reach out to the conference organizers to get this information. You can also see if the conference has any social media groups you can join. Once you have a list, start going through it and researching the individuals you’d like to network with. You can search on LinkedIn and other social platforms to get a better idea who you’d like to get to know. How to network at a conference starts with understanding who will be there to network with.
Pay particular focus on the various legal speakers. These are often incredibly influential in the industry, and you could greatly benefit from networking with them.
It’s also important to mentally prepare. Make sure that you have the right attitude going into the conference and are confident when mingling with others. Think about how you’d like yourself to be perceived and be prepared to show that version of yourself.
2. Become a Professional Social Butterfly
For those of you that are introverts, don’t worry. There are ways that you can still become that social butterfly in the room networking with the other professionals. If you’ve prepared ahead of time, you can have a more focused discussion with the people you interact with. It’s important not to seem robotic, but if you’ve done your prep right it’ll make you feel more comfortable.
If you are more of a social butterfly by nature, you might not need this reminder on how to network at a conference. Talking to people can be natural for you, but always be conscious of how you are coming across to others. It’s critical to be humble and professional at all times.
3. Interact with the Keynote and Session Speakers
The amount of expertise that these individuals have is immense, otherwise they wouldn’t have been invited as a speaker. Although it might seem impossible to figure out how to network at a conference with these individuals, there are a few things you can do.
First, try and show up early for the session. Have a good seat and be preapred to listen. You should also be asking questions during sessions. Speakers will see your interest in their topic, and it’ll hopefully lead them to remember you if you cross paths. There is often a lull after presentations before the next begins, so take the opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell the speaker about what you learned, or how you’ll apply it to show their work is appreciated.
4. Attend the Happy Hours and Events
Typically, conferences will have hosted happy hours for networking. There might also be vendors there hosting certain events. Even though you might feel exhausted after a long day of attending sessions, it’s important to go to these events. This is the best way to network at a conference. It’s your opportunity to talk to other conference attendees and not just on a professional basis.
While you should keep in mind your career advancement and what you can learn from each person, also try and be personal. Be on the conservative side of what you share, but try and find common group with the people you speak with.
6. Follow up with Who You Meet
Figuring out how to network at a conference doesn’t end with the conference. It’s important that you follow up with the people you meet to try and open up an on-going professional relationship. Social media is the easiest way to interact by simply following who you networked with. If you had a particularly great conversation, or want to make the best impression, send a personal message. Thank the person for the the time and remind them how much you enjoyed meeting them. At the very least you should be sending the individual a connection request on LinkedIn.
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