Tips to Network at Conferences

Posted On: February 19, 2020

.Entry Badge for Silicon Slopes Tech Summit 2020

With over 20,000 attendees, almost 200 sponsors and probably another 100 speakers and panelists, the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is ripe for networking. This is my second year in attendance. Amazingly I was able to recognize at least five people that I had met last year. Though I attended a few seminars, the main reason I wanted to go was to meet new people and network. In that process, I spoke to representatives of over 30 companies in the sponsor area. I’d like to share some of the takeaways from this networking experience that may be useful to others attending these kinds of events.


Have a Game Plan

Though two days seems like a lot of time, I assure you it is not. Though I spoke with 30 companies, there are many I did not get a chance to for a variety of reasons. Here are some tips that I used that may be helpful to you when creating your “plan of attack.”


Prepare Your Networking Strategy With These Tips:

I won the Boostability Blanket!!
    1. Research Sponsors in Advance
      Look up the list of sponsors on the event’s website. Identify some criteria for companies you definitely want to talk to. List out your top 10 based on that.
    2. Study the Layout of the Room
      If you are lucky, your event may have a map of the room and where each sponsor will be located. Be ready to do a lot of walking and/or standing around to wait your turn to talk. 
    3. Get There Early!
      The earlier you get in on the first day, the more alert the company representatives will be. It’s key not to wait until the last day to go into the sponsor area, because in addition to being exhausted, representatives will be packing up early on the last day of the event.
    4. Prepare Talking Points in Advance
      Based on your research, you may want to have your specific questions ready for the companies you are talking with. I’d suggest to narrow it down to your top one or two questions, but to build up to it through conversation when possible.
    5. Bring a Backpack!
      I had made the mistake of only bringing a laptop bag on the first day, so I did not have a place to stash my swag or other purchases.
    6. Business Cards – The 411
      I was surprised to learn that some of the business cards at the booths do not have a person’s contact name on them. It can be helpful to ask the person at the booth if they have a name and contact for the person you may need to talk with to get your questions answered.
    7. Exchange LinkedIn profiles.
      Follow an easy process to do this below.


How I Started Conversations

This was actually my weak spot. Fortunately in most cases, the representative at the booth started the conversation with me. However, in other cases, I found it better to initiate the interaction. Though I was there representing Authentic Journeys, I decided not to make it obvious by opening with this canned introduction,

“Good morning, I am Jennifer Kumar….I’m curious to know more about [company name].”

I’d build on this conversation by asking questions about their company and if they were from out of town, I’d ask them how they liked Salt Lake City, if it was their first time visiting here and if they’d get a chance to see anything outside of the conference (I did meet at least two out of state sponsors, one from Indiana and another from North Carolina).


Where is Salt Lake City, Utah in the USA?

Where is Salt Lake City, Utah in the USA?


Very quickly this opening felt a bit ordinary or boring and dry, so I somehow came up with this:

Are you here today to recruit, educate or meet and greet?

Ironically, using this opener led to some intriguing conversations, while allowing the person I was talking with to feel in control of the conversation However, at the same time, as the conversation unfolded, I was also able to share any insight I had generated from pre-research of the company and questions I may have had.


Ending the Conversation

Typically, after about 3 or 4 minutes, I’d feel it was time to wrap up the conversation and move on. In most cases, at this time is when we may exchange business cards or LinkedIn profiles, thank each other for their time and wish each other a good day. While these conversations could conclude in a natural way, there are many opportunities for our conversations to end abruptly due to interruptions or distractions.


How to easily exchange LinkedIn Profiles:

    1. Open your Linked app on your phone.
    2. Click on the search bar.
    3. To the right, you will see a QR icon. Click that.
    4. This will give you options to scan another’s QR code or show yours.

      You can also take a screenshot of your QR code, and ask the other person to open their camera and scan it. That’s easier than using the app, oftentimes. Try it below to connect to me!

Scan the QR Code for Authentic Journeys or Jennifer Kumar’s LinkedIn Profile here. 

QR Code to Connect on LinkedIn - Jennifer Kumar


QR Code to Connect on LinkedIn - Authentic Journeys

Yes, I Had an Ulterior Motive

As I tend to work with companies with a US – India connection, I was there to scope out companies with an India connection.

I was excited to find out that there were several born and bred Utah companies that do including:


Note: It’s not always easy to find out this information from the company website. Other searches on Google helped me find out some of this information. As per my understanding, Utah companies may have branches in Pune, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

Zions Bancorporation does as well, but I am not clear if the connection is only through TCS as this article suggests.

Additionally, after the summit ended, there was a big announcement that Utah company Simplus is to be bought out by Infosys

Networking and Meeting People Who Aren’t Sponsors

There are plenty of other opportunities to meet and greet others who are not sponsors. It is possible to meet with and take photos with the speakers. I was able to take a photo with Jeff Sutherland and Eric Trowbridge, two incredibly inspirational individuals. Meeting people is not confined to the sponsor area. I met amazing people while standing in lines, while eating lunch, and even while washing my hands in the bathroom, for instance. It’s all up to your outgoing nature or being in the right place at the right time to strike up that amazing conversation!


I’m interested to hear your networking tips and secrets! I am a coach that helps you to network more effectively in conferences, seminars, and events as an attendee, speaker, or representative at the sponsor booth, or if you have to give presentations or demos! Feel free to get in touch with us to see how we can help you!

Related Posts:
Learn about Authentic Journeys’ work in India with Global IT Teams
Prepare International Expats who come to Utah
Prepare teams in different countries to work with Utah teams in virtual environments
Encouraging Teams in India to Speak Up in Stand Ups and Team Meetings
Networking at the Doing Business with India Seminar in SLC

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