Wednesday, 10 April 2019

How to prepare for networking at a conference



How to network at a conference



The Women Returners team are looking forward to meeting many of you at our Women Returners Conference in London next month. The day will be packed with return-to-work advice, support and inspiration, with plenty of opportunity to network with like-minded women and meet our 10 Employer Sponsors.

We know many returners find the idea of networking quite daunting, so here are some tips to help you make the most of our Conference or other similar events.
 
Set yourself a goal: This may be to speak to three people you haven't met during the breaks between sessions, or there may be a particular employer sponsor you'd like to speak to. Achieving your goal will be a boost to your confidence. Just make sure your goal is achievable so that you don't feel too much pressure. And don't forget to pat yourself on the back when you've achieved it!

Plan your introduction: Although one of the workshops will cover in detail how to craft your personal story, it's a good idea to have a brief introduction prepared. This needs three elements: your name, a brief description of your background, and your reason for being at the conference. You don’t need to talk about the reason for your break, or its length at this stage. If you are new to networking, it might help you to practise saying your introduction out loud or with a friend, to get used to talking about yourself in this way.

Prepare topics: Whether you're focused on meeting an employer, or still working out your future direction, it's a really good idea to do some advance preparation. This includes researching individual speakers and employers online and through your existing networks, and developing questions you can ask to specific individuals and generally to other conference attendees. If you find it uncomfortable to talk about yourself, ask questions when you meet someone initially - it's an easier way to start a conversation. Advance preparation means you can arrive at the conference confident that you’ll have something to say to the new people you meet. 

Use LinkedIn to connect with other people: LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with other attendees at a conference. You can do this manually, simply by looking up the people you meet. Or you can use a tech way if you have a smartphone: 

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your phone. 
  2. Click on the two people icon at the bottom of the screen in the LinkedIn app and then 'find nearby' in the middle at the top of the screen
  3. You will then be able to invite anyone at the event who also has this screen open to connect. 
If you're coming along to our Conference in London on 13 May, and are on Twitter, do use the hashtag #WRConf and tag @womenreturners to join in the conversation on the day. We hope to see you there and know you'll have a great time - remember everyone at the Conference is a returner so you can relax - you've found your tribe!

If you don't have your ticket for the Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference yet find out more and book here. And you can find information on our Conference's Employer Sponsors here.



For more tips on how to network successfully, see these blogs in our Advice Hub: