If you’ve ever been to a conference and wondered why there are so many opportunities to eat, drink and mingle, it’s because the conference organisers want you to network. This can occur during food and drink breaks, official conference functions, or even by having group discussions during conference sessions.
Conferences typically deliver value to attendees with guest speakers, events and seminars, functions and other conference activities. But many attendees would admit that their main reason for being at a conference is for networking opportunities. So, if you’ve never networked at a conference before, here’s what you need to know.
What is networking?
Networking is quite simply the act of meeting new people in a professional setting. This happens quite often at conferences and seminars, with many conference organisers allowing specified time for networking. It’s how people make professional connections that may be of mutual benefit at a later date. It could be potential investors for a product, potential business partners, or even other professional services you can link up with to assist your growth.
Why is networking so important?
Networking is important for a number of reasons. If you’ve ever heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” this is perhaps the best way to describe the importance of networking. When you make important connections, it’s much easier to establish yourself in an industry. You might even find mentors who can help you throughout your career.
When you build a large network of people you know in various industries, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to take forward steps in your business career. Here are a few of the reasons why networking is so important during conferences.
Building brand awareness
How much do you spend on marketing your business every month? Most marketing efforts can be a bit hit and miss, but conferences give you a tried and true way to get your name out there. So much marketing takes place online these days, especially the art of trying to draw customers or clients to you. In a conference setting, you’ve got the opportunity to put your brand right in front of people.
Even though you’re typically not looking for customers at a conference, the connections you make can certainly help to bring customers your way. Putting yourself in a position to meet influential people in your industry is one of the best ways to build brand awareness. It might just be one simple conversation, but if the other person is impressed, you never know what opportunities may come from it.
Collaboration is a huge thing in business these days. You may have a great idea for a product or service, but it’s so hard to get noticed in a busy marketplace if you don’t know the right people. Plus, sometimes it’s smarter to hook up with others in the industry to collaborate on ideas that can benefit all parties. These are exactly the types of connections you can meet at a conference. If someone else in your industry can help your business grow, it certainly makes sense to at least explore the possibilities.
Many people also attend conferences in the hopes of finding investors for their new product or business idea. This is a pretty clever approach because people love chatting about new ideas. If you find the right people who love your idea, you’ve got the chance to follow up with them later for a meeting or more formal discussion. There are plenty of chances during a conference to meet new people, and inevitably you’ll end up discussing each of your careers. So, don’t be shy to proudly tell people your ideas, let them know you’re in the process of looking for investors, and you never know what might happen.
Establishing yourself in an industry
Reputation is everything in business. However, it’s hard to develop any type of reputation if nobody knows who you are. So, meeting new people and sharing your experiences with them during a conference is a great way to get your name out there. Much like building brand awareness, your personal brand can also be enhanced by networking with influential people in your industry.
As you can see, networking at conferences has a whole host of benefits. But an even better way to network is to host your very own conference. If you’d like to find the perfect conference venues in Wellington, speak to the friendly team at Urban Hub. We can help you set up your own event, and we have plenty of breakout spaces and networking areas, including a licensed café and a beautiful outdoor terrace area. Contact us today to find out more.