7 tips to Networking at a Conference
I’ve attended the Write Canada conference every year since 2003, so I feel I’ve got a pretty good handle on networking.
Obvious tips would be to suggest that you: 1) carry business cards in your right pocket and collect other attendees’ cards in your left. (This is assuming you wear a jacket or pants that have pockets) and, 2) wear your name tag on the upper right side of your chest. (Again, assuming that it’s a name tag that is removable.)
Although these tips may be handy and I could probably come up with 5 more similar ideas like, 3) volunteer at the event, 4) ask open-ended questions, 5) remember to smile, 6) keep records of who you meet, and 7) followup with a short email, I felt a nudge in my spirit that networking is so much more than this. My thoughts were confirmed a number of times at the 2014 Write Canada conference.
Simply put, networking is about helping others. It’s not about schmoosing and looking to see what’s in it for you. It’s about meeting the needs of others.
Marcia Laycock summarized this beautifully for me on our ride home from the conference. She explained that each year she chooses a word that she lives up to. It could be grace, forgiveness, miracle – well, anything really.
Her word for this year? Give.
Giving is not limited to finances. She may give a word of encouragement, give a helping hand, or give up her time to talk with a person. This is networking at its core. It’s not selfish or self-centred. It’s meeting other people and asking yourself, “How can I help them?”
Years ago I was asked to review Boomy Tookan’s book, New Year’s Resolutions: The Guide to Getting It Right Why Many New Year Resolutions Fail Within 30 Days How To Make Yours Work and Kick Start Your Year Book. I found the nugget of genius in the last chapter. He titled the chapter, “What Will You Do For Others.” What was the nugget that changed my life?
“The way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.”
Yes! This is the secret to networking.
Tookan writes, “I learnt many years ago that the way to think about how much you want to earn is to think about how much you want to give. Yes; the amount of money you want to give away should be your first thought.”
Jeff Goins puts it this way,
“It’s not what you know. It’s not who you know. It’s who you help.”
It’s simply the principle of sowing and reaping. I believe the Bible may have a thing or two to say on this topic. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV).”
As Christ-followers let’s get out there and network! See you at the next Write Canada conference!