9 Networking Ideas for Business Conferences


The South by Southwest Interactive conference is all about making connections. From the panels to the parties, you’re rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s most innovative and plugged-in thinkers.

To help rescue you from any tongue-tied moments, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite networking tips from Texas Enterprise and other sources. They’re ideas that will come in handy at any conference or networking event. Now pack your business cards and get ready to connect.

Remember Forrest Gump. When introducing yourself, use the “Forrest Gump” rule: Repeat your first name twice.  At a busy conference like SXSWi, there’s a lot of ambient noise and you want to make sure the other person clearly hears your name.  (“The Forrest Gump Rule to Effective Networking”)

“So what do you do?” There’s a better way to respond to that familiar conversation starter than just giving your job title. First, tell what you want someone to remember about you (please leave out the industry jargon!). Then give an example that shows you at your best. Want an example of how to do this? (“How to Effectively Answer, ‘What Do You Do?’”)

Sound confident. Say you’re telling a fellow SXSWi-goer about your startup. Be intense and use details to show you know what you’re talking about. Master the art of the conversational pause and know how to add emphasis to the right words.  (“Daly: Brilliant Ideas Still Need to be Sold”)

Don’t be creepy. The correct thing to say after an introduction is NOT how much you want to network with someone and how you know the two of you are going to be great friends. (“Adventures in Anti-Networking: 5 Ways to Repel Potential Connections”)

Keep it real. Don’t even think about having a hidden agenda — you’ll get found out. Remember that network is reciprocal, and focus first on what you can give. (“Hidden Agendas Easily Exposed in F2F Networking”)

Be consistent. Don’t adjust your personal brand according to the people you’re with. (“Personal Branding Tips From NFL’s Acho”)

Give yourself a break. OK, sure, you might feel like packing your bags and going home if you fail to join any conversation groups at a party, but chances are nobody else even noticed. Networking takes practice, and next time will go better.  (“How Networking Is Like Making Biscuits”)

Be yourself. Set networking goals that fit your personality. If parties just aren’t your thing, schedule some one-on-ones with social media friends you’d like to meet in person. (“The Top 10 Networking and Informational Interview Questions”)

Follow up post-conference. After that glorious post-SXSWi nap, make the first order of business planning how you will thank anyone who helped you at the conference and follow up with your new contacts. Remember, they probably met lots of people at SXSWi. Sending a note, emailing, or calling will help make sure you’re among those they remember.  (“Connecting F2F at Conventions”; “5 Ways to Build a Network to Land Your Dream Job”; “You Can’t Know Everyone”)


About The Author

Sarah Beckham

Senior Editor, McCombs School of Business

As a senior editor for the McCombs communications department, Sarah Beckham oversees the Texas Enterprise and McCombs Today websites, as well as...

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