You've probably heard time and time again that networking is the key to finding unpublished positions. One of the easiest ways to develop your network is by attending professional conferences related to your fields of interest. Conferences are an opportunity to connect with many like-minded individuals that can lead to potential jobs. However, they often may seem daunting unless you have a plan to capitalize on the event. There are six strategies that I recommend to make the most of the conferences.
Prior to attending the conference, submit a proposal to present. It immediately sets you up as an expert in your field and people will approach you rather than you having to take the first step. You may also want to check if your professional organization runs webinars. In addition to the conferences, this gives you the same opportunity to set yourself up as an expert and have people contact you. The second is to do your research on the attendees and presentations. You want to go to the conference with an action plan in mind.
You should prepare questions to ask during the lectures so that you're ready to stand out in the crowd. You should also pick sessions where you will meet the largest number of people that match your goals. Third, you should have your pitch down. You want each encounter that you have to serve a purpose, and that is to get the message out that you are an accomplished professional. You should practice this prior to attending. It will come out more naturally when someone asks you about yourself and your interests.
Once you're at the conference, you will want to employ the fourth strategy, which is to be the one to initiate conversation. It can seem intimidating to be the one to start the conversation, but believe me, people will be relieved you have approached them. The simplest way to break the ice is to introduce yourself and ask them a question about themselves. It can make them feel comfortable in the conversation and you get to learn more about them in a short period of time. Easy questions include how they are enjoying the conference or what they do.
The fifth strategy is to take advantage of informal networking opportunities. You should stay at the hotel of the conference as there will be many opportunities to network with participants in the lobby and coffee shops nearby. In addition, make sure to use lunch and dinner as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with people that you have met in the sessions. Finally, you will want to stay in touch with each person that you have met. They may not have the immediate opening that you are looking for, so you want to remain on the radar screen for future opportunities.
You need to ask for their card or contact information and let them know that you would like to stay in touch. As you increase your network, you're going to want to maintain relationships and leverage each contact. In the next chapter, we'll talk about the best ways to utilize your current contacts as you search for new positions.
Along the way, discover smart strategies to match your interests with your search and manage your time in order to maximize results.
- Valerie's top five job search tips
- Determining which online job boards to use
- Posting your resume online
- Maximizing the impact of your profile
- Improving your visibility with a blog, workshop, or conferences
- Leveraging your network
- Establishing relationships with recruiters