Over the course of the past month, PSCI has attended and sponsored a multitude of tech conferences, seminars and workshops. On October 19, we were at the Procurement Seminar and Vendor Expo. On October 30, the Delaware Healthcare Forum. On October 31, we sponsored the Cyber Security Workshop. The following two days (November 1st and 2nd), we set up shop at the Delaware SHRM State Conference.
We attended and sponsored these events because business networking is a great way to expand our knowledge, learn from others, meet and greet with potential new clients, and tell others about our business.
But, just as these conferences and events aid us, they’re also a fantastic way for you to further your career. So, in this blog post, we’ll lay out a few tips for you so that you can get the most out of the next tech conference or event you attend.
Do Your Research
Before attending any tech conference or event, it’s imperative that you do your research beforehand. For one, you want to make sure that the conference you’re attending is relevant towards your career or projected career path. And two, it’d be beneficial for you to know just who will be in attendance.
Is there a company you’re trying to get in with? Follow them on social media, and pay attention to their website (especially if they have a news and events section), to find out where they’re going to be. Then, think about the people you would really like to get to know and be sure to make it a priority to connect with them. If you can, send those people an email introducing yourself beforehand. That way, there will already be some familiarity when you introduce yourself in person. You’ll find that prospective employers are impressed by candidates who do their research.
Strategically Plan Your Schedule
All conferences and events have schedules that are unique to them. But you can more or less expect similar schedules for each. If it’s a multi-day event, there will most definitely be networking events (cocktail hours, meet and greets, networking breakfasts, etc.) already built in. Single day conferences/events could also allow for the same schedule, only slightly more condensed.
While there are conferences that keep everyone together for the totality of the event, many conferences have breakout sessions. So you should plan ahead in deciding which sessions to attend. For example, at the Secure Delaware Workshop we attended and sponsored on October 31, there were three breakout sessions throughout the day. During each session, conference attendees were given a choice of attending one of four different topic discussions, each applicable to various audience levels – General Audience, Intermediate, Advanced, and Small Business. If you were a cybersecurity expert looking to learn more about, “How to Achieve ‘Zero Trust’ Access Control in the Age of the Cloud,” (a topic for the IT Advanced audience) then attending the topic discussion of, “Funding Cyber Innovations with SBIR Grants and Contracts” (a topic directed towards small businesses) probably wouldn’t have been a good use of your time – or serve any of your needs.
For any conference or event that you plan on attending, it’d be wise to follow the advice of Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking. She states that, “A session should fulfill either a content goal, meaning the talk will be educational, or it should fulfill an interpersonal goal, meaning you want to meet or support the person who is presenting.”
Engage and Follow Up
Networking can be intimidating. If immersing yourself into a crowd makes you uneasy, you need to take initiative to create a situation where you’ll feel more comfortable. Invite your target out for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. Then, take that opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level and to find a common ground.
But don’t stop there! Make sure you follow up. Don’t let all of that hard work – the research, the planning, the time invested, the effort, etc. – go to waste. Make sure you’re collecting contact information and then either calling or emailing your contacts on a routine basis until you achieve your desired goal.
If you follow these recommendations, you’ll be sure to get the most out of the next tech conference or event that you attend!
And as one last bit of advice, DON’T FORGET YOUR BUSINESS CARDS!