6 Surefire Ways To Stand Out At Any Conference Or Networking Event

Thursday, June 29, 2017 New York, NY, USA

Here's the thing: attending conferences and networking events can be very intimidating, especially if you're a first-timer.

I know from personal experience that these things can be a little anxiety-inducing. I mean, oftentimes you don't know anyone and (let's face it), "selling" yourself to brands, companies, and even individuals with similar interests can be quite nerve-racking.

But, as Serena Williams often quotes fellow-tennis champion, Billie Jean King:

"Pressure is a privilege."

Whether you are the most extroverted or the most introverted person in the world, there is one thing that will help to alleviate some of that pressure, though: preparation.

Here are 6 surefire ways to make sure you are prepared to stand out at the next conference or networking event you attend:

1. Bring business cards

PLEASE, if there is one thing you take from this post, let it be this: always go to conferences and networking events with a stack of business cards. Even if you don't use them, the small price to make them is far less costly than the embarrassment of realizing you are totally unprepared.

*IMPORTANT: At a previous conference I attended we were given the advice to not throw our cards around! While it's important to have business cards, you do not have to give one to every single person you meet. It's more valuable to begin developing a relationship than it is to simply hand out your card to everyone. Create relationships with people and give those you genuinely form a connection with your card. This lets them know you want to stay in touch.

Try VistaPrint, for example, starting at $9.99 you can get 500 business cards or print your own and avoid waiting for shipment.

2. Prepare a 60-second elevator pitch

At the most recent conference I attended, I was actually able to sit down with a professional from .Me to create my perfect 60-second elevator pitch. The idea here is to practice telling someone all about you and "sell" yourself in just 1-minute.

Not sure where to start? Here's exactly what she told me.

3. Know what makes you "you"

Ask yourself: How are you different from others in your field? How does your background or experiences make you special?

Answer these questions and any other "stand out" ones, flaunt those differences, and show them why you are the best at what you do.

Uniqueness is invaluable.

4. Show a genuine interest

If there is one huge mistake I have found people making, it's showing a lack of interest. It is, of course, only human to drift off occasionally mid-conversation with anyone, but it is so important to listen when meeting others in your industry. While listening seems like such an obvious thing to do, you'd be surprised by how many people don't and end up asking a question that was just answered.

Instead of thinking about what to ask next, let the conversation flow organically and see where it goes. Additionally, make sure the conversation isn't all "me, me, me" and more balanced. Use their name, ask them questions, respond to their answers, and you will likely form a wonderful connection.

5. Remember: quality over quantity

Do you think it's a good mentality to go into a conference or networking event with a stack of 500 business cards, hoping you hand them all out before the end of the night/event? NO! No no no. Please no.

The goal of any conference or networking event is to actually develop real connections and no one could leave with 500 genuine connections.

Instead of focusing on the number of business cards you hand out or how many hands you have to shake, count the number of names you truly remember and friends you make. Those are the people who will be helpful to you, not the nameless faces you cannot recall at the end of the night. Because the truth is:

If you can't remember them, they won't remember you.

6. Follow up

When all is said and done, follow up with those who really made an impact on your experience. Thank them, even if only via social media and let them know (or remind them if you already have) you want to stay in touch.