How Do You Stand Out in Large Networking Events?

I have been selected to go to a few conferences in the next month, with about 200 other students in each conference. There is going to be a networking session after the conferences, and I am sure that the other 200 students will all be eager to leave a lasting impression.

How do you build a successful relationship during large conferences? How do you ensure that the person you talked to will remember you once you send a follow-up email? Do you suggest using LinkedIn for follow-ups?

Comments (14)

Funniest
Jan 5, 2018
MikiTheMonkey:

How Do You Stand Out in Large Networking Events?

I got you bro.

https://www.mensusa.com/products.aspx?id=30998&gcl...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 5
    • 1
Jan 5, 2018
Isaiah_53_5:
MikiTheMonkey:

How Do You Stand Out in Large Networking Events?

I got you bro.

https://www.mensusa.com/products.aspx?id=30998&gcl...

I just died.. LOOOL. Wasn't ready

    • 1
    • 1
Jan 6, 2018

@Isaiah_53_5 I already have an orange suit ready, but thanks anyway for the pink suit suggestion (I might buy)! I see you comment a lot on different posts, so you seem like you might know what you are saying. On a more serious note, if you do have some experience with these kinds of situations, you might as well help your "bro" out with a solid advice.

Jan 6, 2018
MikiTheMonkey:

@Isaiah_53_5 I already have an orange suit ready, but thanks anyway for the pink suit suggestion (I might buy)! I see you comment a lot on different posts, so you seem like you might know what you are saying. On a more serious note, if you do have some experience with these kinds of situations, you might as well help your "bro" out with a solid advice.

Ok, here's the deal. You're going to be around a lot of people, may of whom are impressive on paper, pleading with verbal diarrhea resume propaganda (VDRP) to convince the interviewer how awesome they are.

As an interviewer, do you know how old this gets? Very old. Think of a hot chick at the bar. You think a lasting impression is going to be made by 50 geeks drooling over her telling her she is hot? Nah brah, nah.

The first thing you want to do is check yourself. Check yourself before you wreck yourself (some rapper said this too). Take a deep breath, lower your heartbeat, and immediately listen to the cues and body language of the interviewer. Open up to them on a personal level. Use some of your time that you could be pitching to check in with them. Ask how their day is going. Soon, they will give a light prompt to go over your resume/background. Now you may begin.

Don't push the interviewer. If any part of your background is questionable and the interviewer calls you out, take an introspective cue and nod your head and give a quick 'lesson learned' type of response giving way to the continued discussion of your background. In some cases a 1:1 interview may permit hashing out weaknesses/failures to paint a clearer picture of how you have overcome adversity, but in these short interviews in large conferences, you don't want to dwell on the negatives too much.

It is important to map out a structure of each company and the hierarchy. You don't have to do it on paper or anything, in your head is fine, but at some of these conferences there will be reps from the same company at different levels of the organization. You may interview with some mid level person while the MD is roaming around. If they don't tell you in the interview how senior they are, ask them. Get business cards from everyone.

Get there early and be the last one to leave. Help setup if you can and help break down. You think an employee who sees someone breaking down the chairs and helping to put them away labels this person as a self starter? Uh yeah. I can't tell you how many career events I have been to where people just zip in and zip out. No, spend some time in there and you will naturally run into some gaps in time where you are bored, but you're also poised for maximum exposure.

Finally, don't forget your ABCs (Always Be Closing). Ask to meet for coffee, a danish, some Fruit Loops on a park bench, whatever. Just throw in some subtle hints from time to time and gauge where you stand.

As a note - picked up my first offer coming out of college from a job conference.

PS - Make sure to print out all your resumes on cotton paper, watermark facing up.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 2
Best Response
Jan 6, 2018

In these situations it's difficult to stand out enough to make a difference. I would suggest you put a lot of effort into background work.

  1. Research the executives and decision makers you are likely to meet at the event. View their profiles on their company site, for starters. Carefully study not just their LinkedIn profile but also their activity (what posts they "liked", what articles they've written etc). Casually mentioning to an executive that you learnt a lot from the article they wrote on "The flaws of MiFID II and why we're going to need a MiFID III" (or whatever) will leave a better impression than turning up in a pink suit.
  2. At these events most students seem overly keen to make a good impression and talk no end about themselves. I'm not interested in their lives. I'd have a much better impression of an individual if he asked thoughtful and meaningful questions about our organisation, our mission, our values. Especially if those questions demonstrate he already knows a lot about us.
  3. Follow up. Not by sending a LinkedIn connection request or an email. That's boring. That's what everybody else is doing. Here's where you show you are different. For example, you could send a hand written letter! Or send an unusual gift that makes them smile (keep the cost very low or it may be considered a bribe!). I once had a gift of a doughnut (or donut for you Americans) in the shape of a cricket bat with a hole in the middle. It amused me because the only two topics the candidate and I had discussed in our 30 second conversation were doughnuts and cricket. I immediately recollected his face. When I saw him in the foyer a month later I recognised him and made a point of walking up to him in front of all his friends and saying thanks for making me smile.

And be selective. Don't try to impress everybody. Pick a small number and impress them well. All the best.

    • 12
Jan 6, 2018

Thank you for the great response!

Jan 9, 2018

When you send a hand written letter for example, do you write the name of the person and send it to the company address? it sounds obvious but how do you make sure it will get to the person? Won't security or the receptionist just throw it out?
Also, when someones gives you their business card and there are phones numbers in there, is it ok to call?

    • 1
Jan 9, 2018

The point about the letters passing through security is quite interesting... Ideally, I doubt that any receptionist or security will sort mail for the employees (not really their business), but this might be the case if the person you are trying to contact gets a lot of mail anyways and they only have a set amount of time to view the most important letters.

Don't call unless you know the person well. Try emailing first - it's a bit more formal.

Jan 9, 2018

Again, be inventive, be different. Find a unique way to deliver! (I'm not talking drone delivery, or sticking it on a pizza or having it gift wrapped. ;))

Someone once sent me a magazine to highlight an article where a prominent politician said something nice about me. The "candidate" stuck his thank you note in the magazine. The magazine sailed through my "gatekeeper" who figured I'd probably like to see my name mentioned in that publication! And the thank you note got to me.

Hand written letters are more likely to get through the gatekeepers anyway. For added insurance you could call the PA before the post arrives and request her / him to ensure delivery. A simple, polite phone call often does the trick.

With respect the business card question - people often assume that if someone has given you their card they are effectively giving you permission to contact them. Personally, I take a different view. When I give someone my card I'm simply telling them who I am. There is no implicit permission being granted.

    • 4
Jan 7, 2018

Another thing I was thinking about, if you're going to ask for coffee or something, there needs to be a lead-in to this request.

You can't just ask this at the end of the interview or discussion. There needs to be a moment where a tangent leads to a realization that the block of time that you currently have is not sufficient, and coffee would be appropriate.

Be sure to say that you will definitely not make out with them over coffee, and all should be cooler than a polar bear's toenail.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Jan 7, 2018

thanks for the advice. Not sure if you are referencing Outkast's ATLiens, but really like the cooler than a polar bear's toenail part.

    • 1
Jan 7, 2018
MikiTheMonkey:

thanks for the advice. Not sure if you are referencing Outkast's ATLiens, but really like the cooler than a polar bear's toenail part.

haha wow that was an Outkast ATLines reference, nice catch

marinate on that for a minute

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Jan 9, 2018
Comment
    • 5