Conference Networking 101


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If you've ever been at a conference and don't know anyone, learn simple techniques for meeting people to make sure you never eat alone and develop new friendships, collaborations, and even jobs. Topics covered are: why you should talk first and what to say, developing a coherent statement about what you do that leads to "tell me more", how to meet people in advance using social media, and, finally, the advantages of presenting over attending a conference without a talk

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  • Conference Networking 101

    1. 1. Conference Networking 101 Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM Assistant Professor Tufts University School of Medicineemail:, twitter: @lisagualtieri
    2. 2. Agenda: Conference networking 1011. Reasons to network at a conference2. Before you go3. While you’re there4. When you return5. Conference networking 102
    3. 3. • It’s how I got my first job(My) reasons to • It’s more fun network • Why else bother going to a conference with so much online?
    4. 4. Plan for successful conference networking • Besides planning to go to a conference – Get approval, register, book travel, etc. • Planning conference networking – Defining objectives – Bringing business cards and other handouts – Doing research – Using social media – Developing an elevator speech
    5. 5. Define your objectives• Candidate objectives – Having people to talk to and eat meals with – Job hunting, serious or casual (or internship etc.) – Finding research partners – Seeking mentors – Achieving visibility in your field• Prepare accordingly
    6. 6. Preparing business cards and handouts • Business cards – Get them (Tufts provides for students!) – Include current contact and social media information – Bring them and bring enough • Bring handouts to aid with objectives – If job hunting, then bring resumes – Advantages are immediacy and recipient may have time to read before returning to office
    7. 7. Conduct research• You google everything else!• Research presenters whose work you are interested in (and avoid faux pas!)• Research past conferences and the makeup of attendees• Research the location so you know restaurants and local attractions to go to with your new friends – CNN tour at CDC conference
    8. 8. Use social media• Have a presence before conference starts• See last webinar*• Let people know you’re going• Meet presenters and attendees in advance**• Plan onsite meetings* Available on Slideshare** Consider privacy concerns
    9. 9. Develop an enticing elevator speech• Tie to objectives, especially if job hunting• Which is more likely to lead to “Tell me more”? 1. Hi, I’m Lisa Gualtieri. Let me tell you my life story 2. Hi, I’m Lisa Gualtieri. I teach at Tufts School of Medicine and am developing a new course on Mobile Health Design 3. Hi, I’m Lisa Gualtieri. Can I have 3 minutes of your time to tell you a research proposal I’m submitting to the NIH?• Practice elevator speech delivery – Especially helpful for introverts to be practiced – Introvert’s Guide to Networking,
    10. 10. What to do ata conference• Go to all activities – At sessions: meet people near you, ask questions at the end of a talk, speak to presenters, live tweet – Go to meals and breaks – Go to networking events: Girls with Pearls – Avoid your room as much as possible• Carry business cards and handouts• Use social media• Start conversations keeping etiquette in mind
    11. 11. How to use business cards and handouts • Where are your business cards and handouts? – Keep business cards in easy reach in badge or pocket – Have other materials handy and neat • When given a business card – Note where you met, what you discussed, and what you promised – Follow up the same day • Business cards are a cue – End a conversation
    12. 12. How to use social media• Tweet using conference hashtag (ex: #APHA12)• Offer opinions and links to related information• Mention people because they’ll see it – Ex: Great conversation with @lisagualtieri• Say hi to people you know through social media – I always enjoy that!• Go to tweetups
    13. 13. How to start conversations toachieve networking objectives • Where? – Escalators, elevators, breaks and meals, before or after a talk, networking receptions, exhibit area – Also at hotels, restaurants, while walking or working out… • How to start? – Read badges and look for ribbons (but don’t forget to look at faces) • What to say? – Which session are you going to or did you like best yesterday or…? – What is your talk on? (ribbon) – What do you do at X? or Do you work with Y? (affiliation) – I loved your paper on… (your research) – I’m @lisagualtieri and I follow you… (your social media contacts) – Hi, I’m Lisa… (your elevator speech) • If you’ve met before always remind them: name and context • Are there things to avoid?
    14. 14. Conference networking etiquette• Always – Gauge interest: when to end or extend – Be fast especially after a talk or session or if you request time – Be specific about what you want: if you are job hunting, if you plan to follow up,… – Be coherent especially if you are job hunting• No one is too important to talk to• Avoid being too personal – No one wants to feel stalked – No one wants to hear you snore!• Combine activities – Invite someone to join a group dinner – Invite someone to walk through the posters – Invite someone to a tweetup• “No, thank you” is an option for everyone
    15. 15. Networking doesn’t stop when the conference does• Follow up with people you found interesting or who might help you achieve objectives (not necessarily everyone)• Be specific about goals and context – I’d like to hear more about your research on… – I was the person in the Starbucks line Tuesday morning…• Follow up by email – 1-2 reminders are fine especially if you have a goal• Follow up by phone – Leave brief message and send email with details• Follow up on social media with tweets, DMs, or #FF• An exchange is better than a request – Here is the link to my conference summary blog post – I am sending my paper on…
    16. 16. Get ready for conference networking 102• Don’t be just an attendee next time – Volunteer (reduced or free admission) – Attend tutorial or workshop (get to know others well) – Submit talk, poster, tutorial, or workshop proposal• More fun (although more work) to go to a conference as a presenter• Everyone is doing something worth presenting – What you did or the processes or skills you used
    17. 17. My final elevator speech (for today)• Conference networking gets easier with practice• You’ll have people to talk to at the next conference• These skills are useful in many other contexts• Bonus: never eat alone, even with bag lunches