10 Conference Networking Tips: From Sessions to Elevators

You are standing by yourself in an elevator at the PRSSA 2011 National Conference when the doors open and a lone man walks in next to you. You immediately recognize him as one of the Conference keynote speakers. You have about two minutes to make an impression. If you try too hard, you will make a fool out of yourself. If you don’t try hard enough, you will be forgotten the moment he walks out of the elevator doors.

To help you successfully navigate the dicey waters of networking while at Conference, the National Conference Committee created a list of tips that are helpful in conference networking situations.

1. Smile!

Too often, people attempt to win over potential contacts by showing how serious they are. It doesn’t work.

2. Have a One-Minute Elevator Speech

Let them know what you can do, but remain genuine and leave time for questions and conversation.

3. Bring Business Cards

Make sure the card reflects who you are, as it’s what people will have to remember you by later. When you give your card, be sure to ask for one in return. Even if you are on a budget, there are online services that make networking materials affordable, often for as low as $10.

4. Watch the Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance

At Conference, you will find most everyone you meet has an extreme enthusiasm for the public relations practice. Remember, this is an opportunity to learn from each other and humbly share your knowledge and enthusiasm for the field.

5. Avoid Sticking Too Close to People you Know

There’s plenty of downtime to spend with your friends, so use your time efficiently and start shaking hands.

6. Ask Questions

Conference speakers hear people sell themselves all the time, so impress them with a listening ear instead.

7. Write Down Things to Remember About a Person on Their Business Card

What are they looking for in an employee or intern? How did they get started in the business? Next time you cross paths, they’ll be impressed by how much you remember.

8. Know When to Move On

There comes a time when the conversation ends, and you must move on, so watch for it. Stay too long, bore your contact; leave too early, seem uninterested.

9. Relax, Breathe and Think Ahead

Don’t let nerves get in the way of your conversation. You talk to people every day. This is no different.

10. No Rule is Steadfast

There are times when you just have to wing it and hope for the best. High risk, high reward. Be sure to recognize when it is worth the gamble.

With these rules in mind, you will be able to make the most of your networking time at National Conference, from the sessions to the elevator rides and everywhere in between. Remember to register for the PRSSA 2011 National Conference online, by fax or by mail by September 12.

What advice do you have for members networking at National Conference? How do you navigate the new faces and make a lasting impression?

This is a guest post from 2011 National Conference Committee member Edward Bennett.

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