Tips for “Networking” at a Conference

Any of you who read my blog (loyal in my extended blogging absence!) know that the word “networking” is a little dirty to me because the intentions aren’t always as pure as “connecting”. However, I’m asked all the time how I approach networking at conferences. Here are some pointers I share:

  • Do your research beforehand. If attendee lists (either specific names or organizations) are available, make sure you know background for ‘important’ people in the room, and ask colleagues/netsuite about existing relationships.
  • Dont spew information. Instead, ask people questions about themselves and their work.
  • Don’t make people feel like you’re trying to sell them something. Instead, listen to what’s on their mind and respond to that.
  • The best conversations are those that aren’t about work at all. Get to know people to really build a relationship. That often means showing a little of your personality; you can maintain privacy, but think about a few topics you could be comfortable talking about outside of work and don’t be afraid to do that.
  • Be careful what you say about other people – you never know who knows who.
  • The best networking often happens during meals and evening activities, so pace your energy levels to make those times count.
  • Write something to jog your memory on the back of people’s business cards as is helpful.
  • Make note of what article or website(s) would be helpful to send to someone in followup to your conversation, and then follow up! Within a week is usually a good call, but up to two is fine.

And, in doing all of this, focus still on connecting and not having a transactional interaction!

Is Connectivity A Human Right?

via Facebook:

Today, only 2.7 billion people are online — a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9% a year, but that’s slow considering how early we are in the internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains much more expensive than the price of a smartphone.

Facebook has presented a “rough plan” for bringing access to 5 billion more people. I’m not sure about Facebook’s plan, but I do think connectivity introduces important access to information and growth opportunities to people (among many, many other things). In that sense, and in the same way that good health and healthcare is something that I consider a right (in addition to your standard food, clothing, and shelter), yes, connectivity is a right.

What do you think; is connectivity a right? And how do Facebook’s argument and plan hold up?

Is Connectivity A Human Right?

How to Be a Connector

Nine months ago, I shared an article called Forget Networking. How to Be a Connector. Since then, I have developed and offered a class on just that. It’s been a popular class – surprisingly so – and I’ve learned a lot through teaching it. For instance:

  • People have a hard time realizing their existing network.
  • There’s genuine interest in developing stronger connections with people, but fear of going about it the ‘wrong’ way.
  • It’s a tough sell on why you’d want to go out of your way to connect two people with each other, because people want to unveil the hidden agenda.

I’ve also fine-tuned my definition of a Connector, which I think was a huge self-learning for me in 2012. I didn’t previously parse out what exactly makes me a Connector, nor did I think about why it is an asset that I can leverage in my career or otherwise. Here’s how I define it:

Connector is a person who…

  • has lots of great people in their network
  • naturally introduces members of their network to one another
  • is socially fluent
  • is known and respected in their communities

…and who uses that power to bring individuals in their network together constructively and with overall success.

This year, I have embraced this personality trait and run with it, and I’m proud to have connected people over ideas, shared interests, collaborative potential, accountability, research, and resources. I enjoy connecting good people, and am fortunate to have (or to create) many opportunities for doing so. It’s a science, an art, and an energizing delight. 

Most exciting to me is that connecting people unleashes unlimited potential. I can’t wait to see what partnerships, conversation, and social change are sparked through catalytic connection; the power never stops!

The more we love someone, the more that is on the line if that relationship were to fail. The more we let someone in to who we really are, the more fodder they have access to if they were to try to hurt us. The more a parent loves a child, the harder it will be when that child seeks independence. If an addict gives up his drug habit, it means he will be healthier and happier but it also means he may have to face the inner demons he was hiding by using.

Rabbi Marc Katz, in his Kol Nidre sermon about vulnerability. I thought the sermon was really fantastic and well-delivered. In fact, I strongly encourage you (Jewish or not) to read it; it has several good teachings and questions for us all to ponder.