I am not a natural networker. My Myers-Briggs type reveals me to have an introverted mind and for me, going to a conference is work–a lot of work! With the American Library Association Annual Conference coming up in a few days I thought I would share the four strategies that have worked for me to get the most out of conference attendance.
- Do your Homework. Before you attend a conference learn a little about the specific attendees you would like to connect with. Look up their positions, research interests and work projects. Admittedly, this is easier to do at a smaller conference for which the entire participant list is shared, but at big conferences like ALA you can simply target this to smaller meetings.
- Tweet. Live tweeting a meeting can help you to identify individuals with whom you have common interests or help you to see who has an interesting perspective. Why not connect with these individuals in person? Thank them for the re-tweet or favorite or tell them how much something they said made you think.
- Ask about them. One of the best ways to make a positive impression is to truly listen as you allow another individual to talk. Come up with 3-5 questions that ask what people what is important to them: “What’s new at your library?” is a great place to start.
- Network and Follow Up. Throughout the conference note the name of people that you have met and follow up with them. LinkedIn is a great way to do this, but don’t just make the connection–send a message about something you discussed, mail them notes you took that they might be interested in, or ask to collaborate on an upcoming project.
The more conferences I have attended the more I have realized that everyone appreciates a friendly face and a someone to have a good intellectual discussion with. With a little preparation networking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. What are your personal best practices for conferences?
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