Trade Shows, Conferences, and Networking…Oh My!

Networking. It is a way to start or advance business relationships. We all know we should be doing it, but we often use our busy schedules as a reason to avoid it.  Sometimes we may even label the occasional lunch with a friend as networking, just for justification!

If you’re one of the hundreds of professionals heading to the Ohio Conference for Payroll Professionals (OCPP) conference in a few days – or if you have another show on your schedule, make sure you don’t shy away from networking. Whether you are looking for your next payroll job in Ohio, are interested in learning about new services and technologies, or just plan to build business to business relationships, make sure you take the opportunity to network during these events. They are in fact, designed for just that.

What is the best way to network at such a large venue? Here are some tips to make the task a little less daunting.

Learn about the trade show in advance. Knowing the focus and agenda of the trade show can help you figure out what approach to use and which of your skills and/or specialties to highlight. If the trade show offers a list of attendees, review it. You can make a special note and attempt to meet and network with particular people or vendors.

Prepare Questions. Having a few questions in the back of your mind can help ease the anxiety of meeting crowds of people. Make your questions open-ended and conversational. Some examples can include: What does your company do? What do you enjoy most about your profession?

Introduce yourself. Engage in dialogue with the people sitting next to you. If you are attending the conference with a colleague, split up! Work the room and exchange business cards. You and your colleague can meet back up after the tradeshow and share your new contacts. Using this technique will allow you to collect the contact information of twice the amount of people. Most conferences don’t have assigned seating, so break out of your comfort zone and sit next to new people during workshops.

Don’t be a wallflower. Attend any and all social events planned by the trade show. The OCPP has a casino night with shopping and prizes. These events are a more relaxed way to network with attendees and vendors. Utilize these social events to get your name, brand, and story out there.

Be proactive. Waiting for people to come to you is not a sound strategy. To network most efficiently, you must be the one to introduce yourself and make the initial contact.  This will yield better results in the long run.

Follow up. Make sure to follow up with all of the people that you have networked with. Give them a call after the conference to set up a coffee break, lunch, business meeting or phone call. Relationships, both for business and pleasure, require effort. Don’t forget about these new contacts. Touching base periodically can help a growing relationship thrive. If they are important contacts, don’t be afraid to make a phone call! Too often we hide behind email for follow-ups.

Here at Willory – HR & Payroll Solutions, we know that networking is important. Trade shows and conferences can offer an outlet of unparalleled opportunities to meet and network with other businesses and professionals. That is one of the distinct reasons why we are one of the sponsors of this year’s OCPP event being held this Thursday and Friday in Columbus, Ohio.

Our team thrives on networking and meeting new people. If you will be attending the 2012 OCPP event, our team, John Bernatovicz (President), Bob Haas (Recruiting Manager), and Jamie Rugh (Business Development Manager), look forward to networking with you!



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