If you are a small business owner and you think that going to seminars and conferences is a waste of your time, you may want to think again. While speakers are discussing advances in your field or how to manage your employees, there is also something else important going on. Conference attendees are networking with each other. In fact, many people attend conferences solely for all the networking opportunities they provide. To successfully network at a conference, there are a few things you should be sure to do:
* Dress neatly and professionally, but be sure you aren’t overdressed. Most people attending a conference wear casual business attire. If you aren’t sure whether you should wear a suit, ask someone who has attended the conference a previous year.
* Take along a nice supply of fresh, crisp business cards. Scribbling contact information on a napkin is a great way to make sure other attendees don’t call you.
* Make sure you have a small notebook and a pen to jot down notes. Its amazing how fast you can forget that Joe Smith wanted you to call him after the conference because his friend’s brother needs your services.
* If you usually are in a hurry and aggressive, approach people in a more laid back, casual manner. For most people, a conference is a bit like a mini vacation.
* Take advantage of opportunities that seem to have nothing to do with business, like the line dancing class being offered after dinner that evening, but be sure you don’t have so much fun that you leave people with an unprofessional image of you.