Turn Contacts into Meaningful Connections with Networking

When you consider attending a conference, it’s often for the required CEUs and the new information you hope to gain. But these events can also give you an opportunity to connect with colleagues who may be your next coworker or the connection to fill a vacancy in your office. 

The power of networking to either fill a position or find your own next gig cannot be underestimated. This process may seem intimidating, but being prepared can help you feel more confident. Here are steps you can take to make the most out of networking at conferences and other professional gatherings.

  • Create an authentic relationship: This is the backbone of effective networking. It’s not merely about collecting contacts—it’s about cultivating meaningful, long-term, mutually beneficial connections. By fostering genuine relationships, professionals can create opportunities for collaboration, gain insights into their industry and enhance their career development.
  • Prepare relevant questions: Asking specific, impactful questions can be a powerful tool for building deeper connections. According to the Harvard Business Review, meaningful conversation rather than small talk can help form professional connections. Try asking about what they’re most looking forward to in their career, the aspects of their job they enjoy the most or the best and worst piece of professional advice they’ve received.
  • Think about how you can help: Focusing on your goals is tempting, but if you listen for ways to help others, people will likely remember that. While a peer may not have hiring power or know of an opening now, they are more likely to think of you and reach out if an opening comes up at their practice later.
  • Continue the conversation: Reaching out via LinkedIn with a personalized message or sending a tailored email demonstrates attention to detail and genuine interest. You can reference a particular topic discussed during your initial meeting or share an article or resource related to their interests. Consistency in communication, without being overwhelming, helps gradually build a foundation for a robust professional relationship.

When you think about it, most times, it’s pretty rare to ask for help and not receive something—even just positive support—in return. Conferences are a great place to put this into action.

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