Connect with others regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert or an in-person or virtual attendee.
One of the many advantages of participating in a professional conference is meeting colleagues and expanding your network, whether by attending a reception, talking with the individual sitting next to you before a session starts, or connecting via an intriguing chat comment. Some individuals find it almost natural to walk up to a stranger and begin a conversation. For many others, it’s more of a stretch. Here are ways you can make the most of building connections and feel comfortable—or at least less awkward—doing so.
Introverts reading this article may think that networking is a walk in the park for extroverts. But even if you get your energy from being around people as extroverts do, you still need breaks. You also need a plan, says Jessica Thiefels in her Fast Company article, “Networking as an Extrovert, You’re Doing It Wrong.” Focus on where you need support. She adds, “Get intentional ahead of the networking event and go in knowing who you want to talk to—who can help you now and in the future, and in what ways.” Secure enough details about the other people, such as from the attendee list, to make the conversation worthwhile and offer your services first.
You don’t need to work the room to make networking work for you; rather, make a plan. In her article, “An Introvert’s Guide to Networking at Conferences,” Lindsey Drayton emphasizes starting with a goal in mind. She recommends identifying people whom you want to meet and reaching out to them and introducing yourself ahead of the event. Ask them if they have time to meet with you during one of the conference breaks. And remember, you don’t need to stay at an event the entire time. Take the breaks necessary for who you are – that is, if space to yourself restores your energy, take that time.
Whereas introverts may wish they were more extroverted when they are preparing to attend an in-person event, extroverts may think that introverts have the upper hand in a virtual event. But virtual networking, just like in-person networking, requires planning no matter where you fall along the extrovert-introvert spectrum.
“With a virtual conference, there’s no chance you’ll run into someone in line at a booth or while getting coffee or grabbing lunch,” states the WHOVA blog post, “15 Tips on Networking During a Virtual Event.” In fact, the article says that more planning and intentionality are necessary for virtual networking. Engage on social media and the event platform.
“In addition to posting public-facing comments and questions, utilize private messaging tools within your event app to ask new connections what they think of a particular topic or idea at the moment it is presented,” the blog post explains. “In addition to demonstrating your full engagement in the virtual event, you will be building trust with your new contact, showing that you value their opinion as opposed to just contacting them in a sales capacity.”
ATD22 networking opportunities
Take advantage of all the opportunities to make connections during ATD22. Join fellow attendees at Networking Night, sponsored by class, on Tuesday, May 17 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Note: Separate tickets are required for entry. Global attendees are invited to participate in the International Welcome Luncheon on Sunday. Stop by the Quad and the Global Village to mingle with other attendees. You can also sign up in the Conference app for Meet to Eat, a program that connects you with other individuals for a meal during the conference. Or participate in the Talent Development for Good activities taking place in the West Hall throughout ATD22.
For ATD22 virtual attendees, be sure to participate in peer-to-peer learning, virtual private meetings, and face-to-face chats. Join in the various Conversation Starters networking discussion groups too. Explore your options via the virtual platform: atd22.junolive.co.