HOW TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS AT A CONFERENCE
“Every person is a bridge to someone or something else” – Unknown
I’m attending a big conference in Toronto this weekend, and I know how nerve-wrecking it can be to connect with others in these environments. We’re not taught how to approach others and have meaningful conversations. Through my work at The Potentialists – The Community For Achieving Dreams, I believe in connecting with others to support one another to achieve our goals. Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me form meaningful connections with others at conferences.
1. Take The Risk & Go Talk To Them
Scott Dinsmore has an awesome 3 second rule: if you are curious to go speak with someone, you have 3 seconds to decide if you will or won’t. If you don’t decide in this timeframe, you will end up hesitating, mulling over reasons for and against approaching them, and likely end up not do anything. If you want to talk to them, GO TALK TO THEM. The first thing you say to someone doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you took the risk to approach them, and most people appreciate that.
2. You Are There To Make Friends
Don’t see people as above you or below you based on what they’ve accomplished or what they wear. This isn’t high school anymore. See everyone at the conference as a friend you haven’t met yet, not a stranger, and know that you have just as much to share and help them with as they do you for you. Don’t be intimidated by that that big speaker, and don’t let that person standing all by themself be alone. Remember, every time you reach out and connect with someone, it could lead to a pivotal conversation or turning point in your life and theirs.
3. Focus on finding people who “fit”
Not everyone there is going to be someone you connect with. Quickly assess whether the person you’re speaking with is someone you’re connecting with, and if they’re not, find a way to excuse yourself. Check out my recent post on 10 people to avoid or connect with at a networking event.
4. Add unique value
Ask people how you can support them and give to them, instead of first selling or seeking out help for what you need. Find out what matters to them, speak in terms of their interests, and be curious. Find out what they do in their spare time, what their dreams are, and how you can support them. If they love leading a healthy lifestyle, maybe a week after the conference, send them your favourite recipes for fresh juices. Be an opportunity scout, and see every interaction as a way to give and make someone’s life better.
5. Ask Good Questions
Don’t talk about the weather or the hockey game last night. People are full of stories, ideas and wisdom. See each person as someone you can learn from. Ask questions that dig deeper on their responses, find out why they do what they do, be curious, and marvel at how many amazing stories people are filled with. Check out this list of Questions for Meaningful Conversations.
6. Be yourself and have fun!
Let yourself be seen, don’t hide behind your business card, and walk around and explore all that the conference has to offer beyond just the plenary and workshops. I personally like to end conversations I have with people with a high five or a hug. Just because everyone is dressed up, and we have lanyards and notebooks, it doesn’t mean we can’t still be ourselves and have fun, right?
P.S. If you’re looking to learn how to develop skills to be extraordinary, form meaningful connections, and experience the power of community, visit: The Potentialists – The Community for Achieving Dreams. There are also some awesome photos so far in the Community Feed of people completing the 30 Days of Connection challenge taking place this month.