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10 Tips for Networking at Conferences

Jason Eiseman has compiled a great list of tips for networking at conferences. Although his list specifically mentions the CALI and AALL conferences, his suggestions certainly apply much more broadly.

Here's the basic list - see Jason's full post for annotations.

1. Be yourself
2. You have something very important to say
3. Have an elevator pitch
4. You are not a "dream maker."
5. You're probably not that funny
6. Don't pretend you remember me
7. Don't be offended but I may walk away from you
8. Don't do me any favors
9. You don't have to exchange business cards with everyone: use social networking too
10. If you see me, say hello.

This is an awesome list - both funny and wise. I particularly like #2: "You have something very important to say." But I think it goes well beyond conferences--it's true of your professional life as a whole.

This has been a particularly personal lesson for me. As a young person, I was extremely shy and had fairly low self esteem - the kind of student that never, ever spoke up in class because I felt that I had nothing important to offer.

Fortunately, I got over it. It took some serious encouragement from a wonderful mentor who coached me through writing and eventually publishing my senior thesis. For me, it was that experience of having a published article that made me realize that I actually did have something valuable to say.

I've written a lot since then and presented many times, but it still sometimes amazes me that people think I've got something worthwhile to offer. I continue to struggle with my shyness but that little voice in my head that says "yes, I do have something important to say" keeps me talking.


It is refreshing to see a list about networking that incorporates the fundamental most important aspect that being "Be yourself". If I was to add one more point to the list it would be "Choose quality over quantity", don't focus on the amount of contacts made, focus on making contacts with those that will make a difference to your career/business.

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