Insiders Guide: 18 Conference Networking Strategies

Conference Networking Strategies

Top Conference Networking Strategies

Networking is a vital aspect of conferences offering attendees the chance to forge valuable connections, exchange ideas and foster collaborations.  To maximise these opportunities it is essential to employ effective networking strategies.  This blog delves into top conference networking strategies, providing actionable tips to ensure you make the most out of your next event.

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1. Set Clear Networking Goals

Before attending a conference it is recommended that you set yourself clear and achievable networking goals.  Determine what you want to gain from the event, such as meeting potential clients, collaborators or industry experts.  Having specific goals will help you stay focused and make your networking efforts more productive.

Set yourself realistic targets.  For example one could aim to meet at least five new contacts or exchange business cards with ten people.  By setting tangible targets you can measure your success and adjust your approach as needed.


2. Research Attendees and Speakers

One of the most effective conference networking strategies is to research attendees and speakers beforehand.  Many conferences provide a list of participants and speakers on their website or event app. One should use this information to identify key individuals you want to connect with.

LinkedIn is an excellent tool for this purpose.   Look up the profiles of speakers and attendees and find common ground or mutual connections to facilitate introductions.  Knowing more about the people you want to meet will make it easier to start productive conversations.


3. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

Crafting a concise and compelling elevator pitch is essential to optimise your conference networking strategies. Your pitch should effectively communicate who you are, what you do and your objectives. Practice delivering your pitch confidently and naturally to make a strong first impression.

Adapt your pitch to suit different audiences.  Tailor it to address the specific needs and interests of each individual or group you encounter. For example, when pitching to a potential client, emphasise how your services can solve their challenges.  When pitching to a potential collaborator, highlight shared interests and goals to foster a connection.

Versatility in your elevator pitch ensures relevance and effectiveness in various networking scenarios.  For more information on putting together the perfect pitch check out this blog.


4. Leverage Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool as part of your conference networking strategies. Follow the event’s official hashtag on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to stay updated on conference news and connect with other attendees. Engage with posts by liking, commenting, and sharing relevant content.

Before the conference, post about your attendance and what you hope to gain from the event.  This can attract like-minded individuals who are also attending.  During the conference share insights, photos and key takeaways to increase your visibility and attract potential connections.

Utilising social media effectively can amplify your conference networking strategies.  It is recommended to join LinkedIn groups related to the conference topic and participate in discussions leading up to the event.

On Twitter, tweet about sessions you plan to attend and invite others to join you. Use Instagram to share visual content, tagging the conference and using the official hashtag to increase your posts’ reach.

After the event continue engaging by thanking the organisers, mentioning new contacts and summarising your experiences.

Conference Networking Strategies - Leveraging Social Media


5. Attend Pre-Conference Events

Many conferences offer pre-conference events such as workshops, meetups or networking mixers. These events are excellent opportunities to start building connections in a more relaxed setting before the main conference begins.

Attending pre-events can also help ease any conference networking anxiety you might have.  Meeting people in smaller groups can make it easier to initiate conversations and build rapport.


6. Use the Conference App

Most modern conferences have a dedicated app that includes features like attendee lists, speaker bios, schedules and networking tools. Make full use of these features to enhance your networking efforts.

The app can help you identify and connect with other attendees who share similar interests. Some apps even offer matchmaking features that suggest potential contacts based on your profile and preferences.


7. Engage in Workshops and Breakout Sessions

Workshops and breakout sessions are ideal for networking because they bring together smaller groups of people with shared interests.  One is advised to actively participate in these sessions by asking questions, contributing to discussions and engaging with fellow attendees.

These smaller, more focused settings make it easier to connect with others and have more meaningful interactions. Exchange contact details with those you interact with and follow up after the session to continue the conversation.

Conference Networking Strategies - Engaging in Workshops


8. Take Advantage of Networking Breaks

During conference networking breaks, strategically utilise the opportunity to enhance your conference networking strategies. Introduce yourself to new people, engage in ongoing conversations and exchange business cards to expand your network effectively.

Keep an eye out for individuals standing alone or open groups and approach them with genuine interest in their work and experiences. Initiating conversations in this manner can lead to valuable connections that may result in future collaborations or partnerships.

Remember successful networking extends beyond the initial contact. After the conference follow up with your new connections to reinforce the relationship and pave the way for continued interaction.

Consistent follow-up is crucial for solidifying relationships and optimising the benefits of your conference networking strategies.


9. Host a Dinner or Social Event

Hosting a dinner or social event is an excellent way to network in a more informal setting. Invite a mix of attendees including those you want to get to know better and those you have already connected with.

This type of event allows for deeper conversations and the opportunity to build stronger relationships. Ensure the setting is conducive to conversation and interaction and facilitate introductions among your guests.

Conference Networking Strategies - Host a Dinner


10. Follow Up Post-Conference

Following up after the conference is crucial for solidifying the connections you made.  Send personalised emails or LinkedIn messages to the people you met, mentioning specific points from your conversations to jog their memory.

Express your appreciation for the interaction and suggest ways to stay in touch or collaborate in the future. Timely follow-ups show that you value the connection and are serious about building a professional relationship.  For more insight into how to follow up post conference check out this article.


11. Join Conference Committees or Volunteer

Getting involved in conference committees or volunteering at the event can provide unique conference networking opportunities.  These roles often require close interaction with organisers, speakers and other key attendees.

Being part of the organising team can give you insider access to exclusive events and help you stand out as a proactive and engaged participant.  Taking up these positions allow you to contribute to the success of the conference which can be a valuable talking point in future networking conversations.


12. Utilise Business Cards Effectively

Business cards remain a crucial tool in conference networking efforts. It’s essential to ensure that your cards are professional and up-to-date, including all essential information such as your name, job title, company and contact details.

When exchanging business cards with fellow attendees take a moment to write a brief note on the back of the card.  This note should serve as a reminder of the conversation you had with the person making it easier to personalise your follow-up messages.  Personalising your interactions in this way demonstrates your attention to detail and genuine interest in maintaining connections beyond the conference.

Conference Networking Strategies - Utilising Business Cards


13. Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a crucial skill when it comes to conference networking strategies. Focus on what the other person is saying, show genuine interest and ask thoughtful questions.  This approach helps you understand their needs and interests while demonstrating that you value their input.

Avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation.  It is recommended that one aims for a balanced exchange, where both parties feel heard and appreciated. Incorporating active listening into your conference networking strategies can significantly enhance the quality of your interactions, leading to more meaningful and productive connections.


14. Leverage Ice Breakers

Ice breakers can be an effective way to start conversations with new people. Prepare a few open-ended questions or comments related to the conference theme, the speaker’s presentation or current industry trends.

For example, you might ask, “What sessions are you most excited about?” or “How did you get started in this field?” These questions can help break the ice and lead to more meaningful discussions.


15. Create Memorable Interactions

Strive to create memorable interactions during conferences by being genuine, engaging and providing value to your fellow attendees. Share valuable insights, offer assistance or facilitate introductions to other contacts.  These gestures not only showcase your expertise and generosity, but also leave a lasting impression on those you interact with.

It’s essential to be yourself and let your personality shine through in your interactions.  Authenticity is key to building trust and rapport with new contacts, which is pivotal for successful conference networking strategies.

By being genuine and true to yourself, you can establish meaningful connections that may lead to future collaborations and opportunities. Remember to focus on making genuine connections rather than merely collecting business cards as quality interactions often yield the most significant long-term benefits.


16. Utilise Technology

Utilising technology can significantly enhance your networking efforts. Use apps and platforms designed for event networking, such as Brella to schedule meetings, join discussion groups and connect with other attendees.

These tools can help you manage your connections more efficiently and ensure you make the most of your networking opportunities.

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17. Engage with Speakers and Panellists

Speakers and panellists are often industry leaders and experts making them valuable contacts in your conference networking strategies.  To effectively engage, ask insightful questions during Q&A sessions, attend their presentations and connect with them on social media platforms.

Approach these experts after their sessions with thoughtful comments or questions related to their presentation. This personalised approach can help you stand out and initiate a meaningful conversation.

It would be prudent to mention specific points from their talks that resonated with you. This demonstrates your genuine interest and can pave the way for a more in-depth discussion, once again enhancing your overall conference networking strategies.

Conference Networking Strategies - Engaging with Speakers


18. Join Post-Conference Groups and Discussions

Many conferences create post-event groups or forums where attendees can continue discussions and share insights.  Join these groups to stay connected with other attendees and keep the conversation going.

Participating in these groups can help reinforce the connections you made and provide additional opportunities for networking and collaboration.



Implementing the above conference networking strategies can significantly enhance your ability to build valuable connections and make the most of your conference experience. By setting clear goals, preparing effectively and leveraging technology, you can navigate the networking landscape with confidence and success.

Remember, effective networking is about creating genuine relationships that offer mutual benefit and support long-term professional growth.


Related: 11 Conference venues in Dublin your guests won’t forget.

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