Making the most of a conference: networking

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending ConvergeSouth (CS), a conference focused on technology, social media and marketing held at Elon’s School of Law in downtown Greensboro. Local professionals from the Triad and Triangle gathered to learn and network.

The iMedia program was a proud sponsor of CS – it is a great way to connect with the community and grow brand awareness. Additionally, over 20 iMedia students, faculty and staff attended the conference.

As an iMedia veteran, attending conferences is an excellent way to expand your knowledge and network. It is important to have an open mind when attending a conference. Not every presentation will be amazing, but taking the time to network can really pay off. You never know who you may meet at a conference.

Here are few tips to make the most of any conference:

  1. Research the presenters before attending. I highly recommend taking some time to learn about the presenters before heading to the conference. A presenter could hold your dream job or work at place you would like to work. Being armed with information will make networking with them easier and will help you ask more informed questions.
  2. Attend pre-conference events. CS held a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant the evening before the conference.  While I was unable to attend, it once again is a great networking opportunity. It can be impossible to talk to everyone you want to the day of the conference, so attending an pre-event can be a great way to connect with speakers you will miss at the conference.
  3. Engage on Twitter. Be sure to bring a fully charged smartphone, tablet or laptop to follow the conference chatter on Twitter. Typically there are multiple workshops going on at the same time and following along on Twitter allows you not to miss a thing. You can always favorite tweets and review them the next day. Be sure to follow the presenters in advance and Tweet questions you would like them to cover.
  4. Stock up on business cards. When you meet someone at a conference, be sure to exchange business cards. If you meet someone you want to stay in contact with, shoot them an email the next week and let them know you enjoyed meeting them.
  5. Network! Don’t be shy; go introduce yourself to the presenter or other attendees. People are there for similar reasons, so make the effort to reach out to others.

I hope these tips help make your conference experience richer and more enjoyable!

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