Five ways to make the most of a networking conference

BUSINESS conferences can be boring affairs, where few meaningful, lasting connections are made. But if you approach your own networking with creativity and enthusiasm, it does not have to be that way. Here are some tips.

1. Kick off conversation with a fun topic. We all know that first encounters are more memorable if there is a personal element to them. Do not be afraid to talk about the food you are eating, the city you are visiting or favourite sports teams and TV shows. People will not remember the 10th conversation they have had about sales solutions. But they will remember discussions about terrible hotel coffee and the best restaurant in Prague.

2. Get out of the conference space. Shared experiences are another way to take networking to the next level. Suggest a trip to the cafe down the street or a walk around a nearby park.

3. Challenge yourself to try new things. The add-ons that most conferences offer — morning fun runs, afternoon factory tours, evening cocktails — are great places to meet people because they help us behave and think more openly. And do not worry, you will not be the only person who is trying something new.

4. Leverage technology. Most people who live-tweet a conference do so to broadcast what they are learning to those who are not there. But consider spending more time sharing the industry questions you would like answered. Monitor posts with the conference hashtag to see if you can answer any queries that others have posed. Chances are you will end up conversing with someone completely unexpected who is nonetheless a useful addition to your network.

5. Embrace your anonymity. A conference is the perfect opportunity for you to put forward your most out-of-the-box questions and ideas, planting seeds for the most fruitful kinds of relationships. You are away from the office and your colleagues, so you can take more risks.