Participation in networking conferences is the best way to expand your contact network, gain new clients, and deepen the market's needs. Professional networking abilities help to boost any business but to achieve the best results, it's essential to prepare well for the fair or conference.
No matter if you've been participating in plenty of networking events already, a fresh look and a handful of advice are always welcome. Read our tips and learn how to build professional relationships more efficiently than ever before.
The tips gathered in this article are given by Michał Krzysztof – Sales Director at Codete. Michał has participated in dozens of conferences worldwide, gaining practical experience and knowledge. Networking events are his wheelhouse, and he willingly combines networking building with developing the company.
Table of contents:
PART 1: Before the event
Choose network events wisely
The business calendar is full of initiatives that help you meet other professionals, find job opportunities, and build connections. On the other hand, enough is enough, and participation in all events isn't the best idea. It's better to choose a few conferences with the most interesting lineup and guests that really stick to your business than to spend time (and money) on visiting all the events.
Not all the events, but...
Michał Krzysztof, Sales Director at Codete, has one more piece of advice for those wondering which networking events to choose. "It's worth spending one season evaluating conferences personally and looking for the most suitable ones. Time and money-consuming as it seems, but trust me – this step will pay off in the long run."
Small conference – significant growth opportunities
Sometimes it’s not the size of the conference that makes it essential. Cameral events, like CoMeet Berlin 2023, have plenty of values, amongst which can be mentioned:
- The possibility to deeply get to know all the joiners.
- A more casual atmosphere aids in strengthening connections not only during the event but also after it – during the parties and semi-formal meetings.
- More opportunities for the participants to get to know the market, its expectations, and development directions for the upcoming months.
Conferences with a shorter guest list are often more focused on specific themes, and as a result – they meet the participants’ needs better than the regular, large-format initiatives.
Take advantage of funding
If you know where you would like to look for your networking opportunities, consider minimizing costs. You can buy Early Birds tickets because they are the cheapest, but there are other ways to save funds.
Another one is signing up only for the conferences that take place near your location. Plane tickets and accommodation costs a lot while planning participation in international events, so why not focus on the local ones, like CoMeet in Berlin?
Michał has one more suggestion for those wanting to join worldwide industry events: "Try to find funding sources from state institutions like PARP [ang. Polish Agency for Entreprise Development, pol. Polska Akademia Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości]. If you meet the program's requirements, the costs like plane tickets, entrance fees, or accommodation can be reimbursed, and sometimes this “Go to brand” funding program it's up to 50% of the total event participation costs."
Set clear goals
The event is already chosen, so now it's time to clarify your intentions. Finding the answer to the question: "Why do you want to attend this event?" will be one of the key points in planning your visit.
The professional network starts at the desk
To get the most out of the event, getting to know it inside out is crucial before it starts. While discussing the rules of participation, remember to ask the organizers for the list of brands that will attend the conference. That will let you "prepare the background" for building your social networking. Popular social media platforms like Linkedin may be a perfect place to search for information about potential clients and partners, so spare no time to visit them.
Don't hesitate to bargain
Do you know the expression: "The best parties occur in the kitchen?". There's a similar one in business: "The strongest relationships start close to the coffee machine". Even if it may sound like a joke, the truth is that the location of your stand at the fair matters. Take care to make it visible and memorable, and your professional network will expand.
Avoid visiting events blind
Have you ever thought about joining any networking event with no previous preparation? Even if it sounds exciting, and you feel like a currently taking place nearby event may be a perfect match, we don't recommend it. "Spend time selecting the most valuable conferences and preparing for them. I bet your company will thank you for it." – justifies Michał.
PART 2: During the event
Networking skills? Don't forget about small talk
Even the most complex professional networking starts from small talk. Building connections should be based on getting to know each other and learning about the shared interests. Whether you're meeting job seekers, potential clients, or partners, don't forget to get to know them as well as possible.
"Are you looking for networking tips? Here's the one: use not only the regular fair time but also breaks to meet people. Sometimes, even the shortest chat can provide you with excellent results." – advises Michał, who has been attending conferences for many years.
Take care of your company's stand
While setting up materials for the conference, it's essential to make it as up-to-date as possible. Instead of using the same content for all the events, it's better to make slight changes and adjust them to the themes of each initiative.
Michał notices that the optimal number of the brand's representatives is around three: "One person is focused on presenting the company to the guests. Another is on professional relationships, and the third one has time to participate in the meetings with industry leaders." Too many attendees create the impression of chaos, and too few – deprive the company of the opportunity to make valuable contacts.
Make hay while the sun shines
Stable business networking is possible if you take the time to build and strengthen relations.
There are plenty of networking efforts you can make, but one of the crucial ones is maintaining relationships. Start with it already when you are at the conference, for example, by adding newly met people to your social media channels. It's also recommended to follow the new contacts with the information you've been discussing or share ideas mentioned during the conference.
Ready! Set! Pre-Sales goes!
While considering the process of building relationships and professional networks during business events, the Pre-Sales team is what must be noticed. "When we represent the company at the conference, we constantly contact the Pre-Sales department. We exchange information on what the people we meet need and expect. It's also on the Pre-Sales side to send invitations from social media accounts as quickly as possible. All to expand our network of contacts and get the most out of the event." – explains Michał.
PART 3: After the conference
Many people think the effort to create business networking ends when the event is finished. Nothing could be more wrong! "After returning to the office, we are focused on preparing sets of materials tailored to the potential clients' needs. Our calendars are full of video calls and meetings that let us strengthen the connections." – Michał says.
Patience pays off
"One-day conference means for us weeks or even months of preparations." – notices Michał. "But even though it may seem that the time spent on the groundwork doesn't give us valuable results, the truth is different. The contacts we once made at events often return to us after a long time. Sometimes it is worth waiting and treating the conference as a long-term investment because business is constantly learning patience." – he sums up.
Professional networking – key to your business success
The fact that networking is important doesn't have to be explained to anyone. Gaining professional contacts helps to boost the company and find new career opportunities, and that's why attending business networking initiatives is so essential.
Exchanging business cards and personal information, gaining self-confidence, getting to know the latest trends in the market, improving your body language, and finally getting new connections should be considered while planning to join professional conferences.
If you're curious about the conferences we've visited or our further plans, follow our social media to keep up to date. And if you would like to meet us at the networking event and discuss your needs, contact us using the form.