When it comes to networking, most of us fall into one of two categories:
Live for it. Love it. Easy like Sunday morning; or
Hives. Stressful. Buddy system or bust.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, attending a meeting like the PWH Leadership Summit can be exciting, but intimidating for all experience levels. Before you go, consider these five tips to get the bang for your (or your company’s) buck at your next professional development conference:
1. Stack your calendar
– Comb the attendee list for individuals you’d like to connect with. I usually focus on fellow college alumni, peers or leaders in my niche, and innovators in a different field I can learn from. Email them or connect on LinkedIn and invite them for coffee. Who knows where the discussion will lead.
2. Perfect your pitch –
The best networkers never close the door to an interesting job opportunity. And effective networking means being articulate, bold and memorable in how you present yourself. Establish an elevator pitch. A good one should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for? Here’s mine:
Hi, I’m Kaycee Kalpin. I am a healthcare IT product marketing leader and specialize in effective go to market strategies for new and emerging IT. As a fellow HIT leader, I’m hoping to network with you and learn how you’re uniquely approaching the market.
Further refine your pitch by tailoring it to them, not yourself, and eliminating any buzzwords or industry jargon.3. Ditch your squad –
This is important. And it may be hard. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to move in a “work pack” and limit yourself to those people and ideas you knew before the meeting. Challenge yourself to ditch the colleagues and venture out. You won’t regret it and your colleagues may follow suit.
4. Say yes A.M.A.P.
– In your day-to-day job, if you say “yes” to as much as possible, you’ll be drowning with work that is outside of your scope and overextended. But…when in Rome (or PWH Leadership Summit)! If invited to network over dinner, join for an event, meet early for coffee – say yes! You may travel back exhausted from squeezing in so much activity, but you won’t regret making the most of every opportunity.
5. Bring it home
- Chances are, if your organization is supportive of you traveling to a professional development conference, they have confidence that you’ll bring back some excellent ideas and share with the rest of the team. Ask for speakers’ slides, take thorough notes and relate the presentation back to your work. Set up an optional lunch-and-learn when you return to share some insight with interested colleagues back home.
If you weren’t already excited, I hope this got you jazzed and full of ideas for your upcoming professional development meeting. With some prep, a stellar pitch and a full social calendar, navigating PWH Leadership Summit should be easy like Sunday morning.
Kaycee Kalpin, MBA
Senior Director IT Solution Marketing