How to Network Like a Pro at Inbound 2016

Russelia Ferreira

You’ve studied the program and you know which sessions, keynotes and, of course, which parties and performances you want to attend. All that is left to do now is the fun stuff, the networking. You are probably not surprised to hear that many people are quite apprehensive about networking. Here are a few quick tips on how to get the most out of the most important aspect of any conference, the networking.

One of the best ways to break the ice before a conference is to get involved with the conference Facebook and LinkedIn Group ahead of time. This way you can meet people online before you even get to the show and then make plans with some to meet up at the conference.

INBOUND 2016 has its own Facebook Event and LinkedIn Group dedicated to the conference and their hashtag for people going to the conference alone is #INBOUNDsolo. These are all good to check during the conference also.

Although the conference starts on Election Day, it is always a good idea to steer clear of political commentary as it can have a very polarizing effect on an initial conversation.

One great way to network is to chat with your neighbor about the session that you just attended. You can ask them what they thought about it and what keynotes or performances they attended or will attend.

This year has a star studded lineup of keynote and spotlight speakers which include:

  • Keynote: Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Keynote: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Spotlight: Directors of Making a Murderer
  • Keynote: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
  • Spotlight: Tim Urban
  • Spotlight: Angela Duckworth
  • Keynote: Anna Kendrick
  • Spotlight: Serena Williams
  • Spotlight: Michael Strahan
  • Keynote: Alec Baldwin
  • Keynote: Reshma Saujani

Performers at this year’s show include:

  • Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr.
  • Sarah Silverman, and
  • Ali Wong

You can also inquire about what session they will go to next. If you are both going to the same session then you can have a good conversation as you find your way through the maze and over there.

At the conference there will be more sessions than you could ever attend. We are all at the conference to learn but most networking experts warn against spending all of your time in the sessions and not enough time networking.

For this reason it might be a good idea to skip a few sessions and hang out in common congregational areas like, Club INBOUND.  There you can grab a cup of coffee and chat up whoever you run into.

Walking the floor

Walking the exhibit hall floor is a great way to strike up conversations with people manning their booths. They are often looking for people to speak to especially during exhibit hall down time. You can also pick up some great free stuff that way!

For example, At Inbound 2016 Data Reef will offer a free consultation & Data Integrity Assessment at our booth (No. S9 in Club Inbound) to those who schedule a meeting in advance. Book a meeting at the show.

Of course, Happy hours are also a great place to meet people. As you enter the room of people who may be in various stages of getting hammered, experts recommend paying attention to how people are standing or if they can stand at all. If two people are standing face to face engaged in a conversation or if there is a group of three or four people facing each other in close conversation, it can be very difficult to interrupt them to introduce yourself. Look for pairs and groups that are standing facing outward not into each other. This makes it easier to step in and strike up a conversation with them.

It’s always a good idea to introduce yourself briefly and then steer your conversations away from you and towards the other person and to ask open ended questions. Remember that a good networker is an even better listener. Getting people to talk about themselves draws them out.

Another great place to strike up a conversation is on the shuttle bus over to the conference hall or with someone waiting for an Uber or taxi back to their hotel or wherever they are off to next. Of course it’s important to have your business cards at the ready. You should probably wait to connect on LinkedIn until that evening or after the conference is over rather than just after you meet them. You don’t want to appear over anxious.

We hope that you find these tips helpful. Who knows they could help you make a connection to a valuable resource, make a sale or just make a new friend.

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