We’re just TWO days away from ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exposition! Are you going? Are you packed? Are you as excited as we are?!

Hopefully, you answered ‘yes’ to all of those, but before you hop in your car or on a plane and head to Columbus, we recommend brushing up on your networking just a tad. (After all, there will be so. many. opportunities. And we know you want to take full advantage!) 

Let us help you do just that! Read on for the ultimate guide to networking at #ASAE19!

General networking tips:

  • Be a listener – Networking isn’t just about talking. It’s about listening as well. When you ask someone a question, make sure to actually listen to their response. Many people at these types of events are talkers, so being an active listener will help set you apart from the pack.
  • Be a connector – Instead of focusing solely on making your own connections, make an effort to connect others as well. If you’re talking to someone and happen to think of someone else at the event who could be of help (or be helped by) this person, make that introduction. People will appreciate your extra effort!
  • Take notes – After chatting with someone, jot down a few notes about your conversation. (You can do this on the back of their business card if they gave you one.) Then, when it comes time to follow up with that person, mention one or two of those key points. Not only will this help the person remember who you are, but it will show them that you were actually paying attention to what they had to say. 
  • Follow up – Speaking of following up, it’s better to do this sooner rather than later. At the very least, connect with that contact on LinkedIn – just so you can stay in touch and keep up with what’s going on with each other. (This makes it MUCH easier to then follow up further down the road, whether that’s to grab coffee, connect at another event, or ask for a small favor.) 

Questions to ask:

Coming up with questions to ask to keep the conversation flowing is perhaps the hardest part of networking. Here are a few questions to keep in your back pocket to ensure you ALWAYS have something to say:

  • What company/organization do you work for?
    • What’s your specific position?
  • What do you enjoy most about your current role?
  • Have you attended ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exposition before?
  • Are you here by yourself or did any coworkers join you?
  • What are you hoping to get out of ASAE Annual this year?
  • Are you from the Columbus area?
    • Or: Have you ever been to Columbus before?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?
  • Are you on LinkedIn/Do you mind if we connect?
  • You’ve been so helpful! Is there anyone else here you think I should meet?

Bonus tips for introverts:

Networking can be particularly hard if you’re an introvert. If you’re feeling extra nervous (but also determined to succeed!), here are some bonus tips for you:

  • Brush up on industry trends and news – Even though ASAE Annual is just a few days away, take some time to brush up on a few industry trends and/or news stories. (Associations Now is a great resource to check out.) That way, if you blow through the questions above, you’ll still have some topics to fall back on. (Did you hear [or read] about XYZ?)
  • Get there early – If possible, once you’re onsite, try to arrive at the different networking events early. It’s much less intimidating to approach a small group of people than it is to approach a large group of people who are already in the middle of a big conversation.
  • Focus on what you’re good at – Large group discussions may not be your thing, but perhaps one-on-one conversations are. If that’s the case, focus more on trying to have those types of conversations. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of people you talk to; it’s about the quality of your conversations.

There will be a TON of networking opportunities at ASAE Annual, but if you’re looking for something extra to add to your agenda, we highly encourage you to come to our Small-Staff Shindig! (It’ll actually be more of a fiesta, complete with tacos, margaritas, and the best of the best people.) RSVP here!

And for more pre-ASAE Annual prep (or any conference prep, really) check out our Conference Survival Guide below!