Transportation conferences offer amazing opportunities to learn about new ideas and stay abreast of the latest industry trends. They are also great places to rub elbows with experts in the field. With two big conferences coming up on the calendar –ATPA TRANSform and California Transit Association (CTA) 54th Annual Fall Conference– we thought it was time to offer some networking tips to maximize your conference experience. So, throw on your laminated name tag and get ready to network like a pro!
Before the conference
- Establish goals. Check out the conference schedule. Choose a few sessions that you know you want to attend. Research the presenters. If there’s someone you know you want to meet, reach out on LinkedIn before the conference and introduce yourself. It’s a nice way of breaking the ice before meeting them in person.
- Create a schedule and use your time wisely. Be realistic; you won’t be able to go to every presentation, so make sure your schedule includes the ones that you’ve prioritized.
- Be prepared. If there’s a conference app, download it and start connecting with people before you arrive at the conference. Is there a conference hashtag? Make sure you use it in your communications.
At the conference
- Identify yourself. Wear your name tag and make sure everything is spelled correctly.
- Bring business cards – lots and lots of business cards! More business cards than you think you’ll need. They are a handy and visual way of providing your information to new contacts. Also, make sure you take other people’s cards; jot down notes on the back, so you remember details about the person and the topics discussed.
- Have your contact information ready to share. Create a business profile on your mobile device so you can easily text or email your contact information to new acquaintances.
- Create a great introduction. Have your elevator pitch ready. Be prepared with a brief and engaging introduction that explains who you are and what you do.
- Talk to strangers. This is the one time it’s okay to ignore your mother’s advice. Sit with strangers. Talk to strangers. You are here to meet people, so don’t cluster together with colleagues from work. You know them already!
- Use your breaks wisely. Getting coffee, a quick lunch, hopping on the elevator, or stepping into the lobby to stretch your legs? These are great times to connect with other conference attendees in a more relaxed way. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of receptions and other scheduled social events.
After the conference
- Reach out. Follow-up with your new acquaintances. Send a personalized email thanking your contact for his/her time. Remind them of the topics you talked about, so they easily remember you.
- Stay connected with social media. Find your new contacts on LinkedIn and invite them to connect. Follow your new friends on Twitter. Use the event hashtag to post pictures and thank you messages.
- Put what you learned to work. Conferences motivate you and generate all kinds of new ideas. Don’t lose the momentum. Get those ideas on paper, so you don’t forget. That way, you can put what you learned into action.
With these networking tips under your belt, you’re ready to meet new people, get reacquainted with colleagues you haven’t seen in a while, and together, learn about advances in transportation.
We can’t wait to shake hands with you at the next conference! Connect with RATP Dev USA on LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest updates – see where we’ve been and where we’ll be! For starters, we hope to see you the CTA Fall Conference, stop by RATP Dev’s booth or charging station for an engaging conversation or quick jolt of energy!