When You Arrive
Killing it at networking events.
Pay Attention – opportunities are everywhere at a conference. Be sure to keep your head up and your eyes open when you’re at an event. You never know who you might be caught in a conversation with. Last year when I was at a cruise conference, I struck up a conversation with Mickey Arison while standing at the bar. It was a simple “Beautiful evening to be on a patio, eh?” Which triggered a 10 minute conversation about how I “must be from Canada”, the weather in Toronto and what it’s like to travel north. Oh, and my boss couldn’t believe how I just casually started a discussion with one of the biggest players in the cruise industry.
Read Body Language – if someone wants to talk to you, you’ll know. Eye contact is key here. If they keep glancing around the room, they are looking for an “exit”. Its good to know when a conversation is over and let them go. They’ll appreciate it and likely remember it for the future.
Raise Your Voice – A strong animated voice implies confidence, so be sure to speak loud enough that the person you’re speaking with can clearly understand you. Be careful not to be so loud that the entire room can hear you.
Easy on the Topics – no politics at these events. Trust me, people are more interested in talking about the weather than digging into the latest political scandal. A short jab here and there might be okay if you’re further along in the conversation but keep it light.
Dress the Part
Fashion Tip – keep it a bit conservative. A structured dress with a longer hemline and a higher neckline make women seem more approachable, while suits with a crisp white shirt are generally a safe bet for men, ties optional. Scruffiness is a gamble – keep yourself groomed. I should also mention that a woman in a tailored tuxedo is also a pretty fantastic sight.
Remember to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Keep on top of the conference
Keeping Track – You’re going to receive a lot of business cards. Make notes when you return to your room (what they look like, what you talked about, etc) You’ll see why later.
Attend the Sessions – when you want to skip out on the sessions, remember that your employer is paying you to be there absorbing what you can so you can become a better employee. Better yet – you don’t know everything so sit your butt down and take it all in. You’ll be sure to take something away that you can bring back to the office or use as a topic of conversation at the networking events.
Choose Wisely – your time is valuable and your spare time is sparse. Use it wisely and take some time for yourself. It’s important to recharge those batteries so if it’s between 20 mins reading emails or 20 mins to go for a walk around town, opt for the walk. The fresh air will help clear your lungs from the stale convention centre air and boost your energy.
Avoid the Afternoon Coffee – your adrenaline is going to be pumping all day. If you think you need a pick me up, try a bottle of water instead. It’s important to stay hydrated and it will help you sleep better at night (not that you’ll be sleeping much)
Manage Your Expenses – carrying around the company card is nice, but don’t go crazy. If your workplace allows alcohol on the dinner tab, limit it to 1-2. The rest is on you, unless you receive permission from your supervisor. Be sure to set the ground rules about hospitality and hosting clients before you leave – excessive drinking on company time is not something you want to face in a performance review.