Networking is not just a one-off thing; it’s a normal activity in the life of a Scientist. When you network, you gain new opportunities and make new relationships. So, this is very important. It’s your one-way ticket to make most of the upcoming Young Microbiologists’ Conference 2017, whether as an attendee, volunteer, speaker or sponsor.
So, how do you network like a PRO?
1. Prepare and Practice an Elevator pitch
The first time, you meet someone, you need to say a few introductory words. So, prepare and practice an elevator pitch. Who are you? What do you do? Why are you attending the Young Microbiologists’ Conference? Rehearse your answers ahead of time to prepare your thoughts.
How to Prepare Your Elevator Pitch?
2. Look out for potential people
If you have access to conference attendees. Make note of potential people to meet and why. Use Twitter to follow and meet the speakers before you attend. Be active on the event page and potentially people can have your name ringing in their head even before the day.
3. Dress Smart
People usually follow their first impression. So, dress the part. It’s not necessary to break the bank but ensure you dress smart and in a manner, that you would like to be addressed. It will be unusual to dress as a town chief, except you are attending in that capacity, so be smart.
4. Get to the conference early
Please discard that notion, “Nigerian Time”. Hang around the registration desk, entrance, food or wherever people congregate, except you are advised not to do so. Look out for solo attendees. They will also be eager to meet someone and seek a friendly connection, but don’t let them hang over your neck so much that you don’t get to meet other people. Use the opportunity to talk to organisers, exhibitors, sponsors. They know people and they can introduce you quickly.
5. Approach strangers
This is not the time to avoid strangers as you have been taught by your parents. It’s time to meet new people. Don’t stick to familiar faces or cringe in one corner of the room. Don't recirculate old friends. It's not time to discuss office politics and national news, except this is at your advantage. Take a walk. Smile. Be bold to walk across the room and introduce yourself to someone new. Look confident. Speak out. Be firm when you do so. A good way to break into a circle of unknown people is to talk about the conference. For example, you can ask, “who was your favourite speaker?” “Do you agree with what the speaker said about…?”
6. Take interest in others and ask questions
Be more interested in other people than yourself. Actively listen to the answers. Use eye contact and body language to show you are listening. Prepare ahead some prompt questions but avoid sounding like a tape recorder. Take interest in the conversation and ask open-ended questions. So, why did you take interest in this conference? What have you done in the past? Avoid questions that will lead to a simple yes or no.
7. Be personable and take contacts
Use the person’s name several times as you are speaking to help you remember it, but avoid overdoing it or mistaken a name for someone else. Collect and share business contacts and make notes so that you can follow the conversation later.
8. Keep it fresh and stay hydrated
Bring mints and gum to keep your breath fresh, especially after a long technical session and after meals. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol. You don’t want to make a mess.
9. Follow up
Follow up with each person you meet after the conference. This is very crucial. Follow up with a pleasant email, remind them what you spoke about, offer them a link to an interesting article, connect on LinkedIn, or schedule a “no agenda” meeting.
Have I missed something?
Feel free to share your comments and bonus tips below.
Find out more about YMC-2017 or register here