Have your pitch materials ready.
Even if you're not looking for another gig, contract, job, or opportunity, there's no harm in preparing your value pitch. Your value pitch can come in any number of forms: It's simply your way of showing what you bring to the table.
These days, you'll want two basics: A business card (be absolutely sure to include a link to a personal website or LinkedIn profile) and an elevator speech. The elevator speech is your 15 to 20 second "pitch" on your skills, abilities, accomplishments, and background; the idea is to keep it short enough that you could give it during an elevator ride.
Network actively but sparingly.
Everyone you talk to is a potential network connection, but if you try to hand each person a business card and a sales pitch you’ll come off as needy. Find the people who you really have a potential connection with and invest more time and energy in setting the foundations for that relationship.
Spamming your business information across the convention floor will not help your reputation or bring you professional success. It’s not a numbers game: It’s people game. As such, you need to spend more time in dialogue and more time asking questions—and less marketing yourself directly.
Use the right networking strategies.
Networking isn't about giving a sales pitch and getting names. It's about asking useful, thoughtful questions. Having your business card and elevator speech ready is partially just a courtesy to others; while some of the people you meet may have materials prepared for you, most will require that you ask questions to learn what they bring to the table.
Not many will have a specific value proposition and use-oriented print materials. The people who set of booths, however, have that sort of communication in mind—so you should certainly step over to the booths when you get the chance.
Plan to use the conference as a social media opportunity.
Whether it’s through Tweeting, Facebooking, or writing a blog entry, you can leverage the experience and justify the expense by talking about it on your professional outlets. For individuals, this is a way to extend your social networking and develop your reputation. For companies, this can be an opportunity to reach out to new clients and professionals.
Beyond simply leveraging the conference itself, though, it's important that you keep your social media profiles active so that anyone who scouts you through those online pathways will see that you're an active user. If you're not an active user on Twitter, Facebook, or other outlets, simply don't provide your username on your business card, LinkedIn profile, or other professional hubs.
By following these simple tips, you can get far more networking done and get far more value out of it. The SharePoint community is strongly social and very bright, but it's often comprised of introverts—so having a networking strategy can only help.
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