October is traditionally a very busy month for conferences, and it’s also when we really start planning our Global Conference. Whether you’re a frequent attendee at recruiter networking events, a newbie, or somewhere in between, there are a few things EVERYONE can do to maximize the return on their attendance investment.
Decide Who You Want to Meet – Who is the audience for your recruiter networking event? Are you hoping to meeting clients, candidates, or other recruiters? Maybe a combination? Before you commit to attending, be sure the people you want to meet will be there. Once you’ve done that, review the attendance list and highlight the names of people you want to connect with. If your event shares attendee contact details, consider setting appointments in advance. If there are sponsors or vendors, they should be part of your plan as well. Who doesn’t want to learn about new tools, services, technology, or ways to save time and money?
Make a Plan – Spend some time reviewing the schedule. It’s likely you won’t have the time or ability to see/do everything that is offered. You’ll need to determine why you’re going and what you hope to accomplish, then focus your time on the activities that support those goals. Remember that some of the best tips and conversations occur during breaks, meals, or social activities, so make sure you’re spending time at those functions. If you’re commuting or staying offsite, calculate the travel time and allow room for unexpected delays. Large recruiter networking events could mean significant walk time from a parking ramp, rush-hour traffic, slow elevators, or more.
Download the Event App – Many organizations, including NPAworldwide, are reducing or eliminating paper registration packs in favor of mobile apps. There are some major advantages to attendees for using the mobile app. For starters, slide decks are often pre-loaded and can be easily shared with others in your office who didn’t attend. Some mobile apps include technology that allows you to exchange a digital business card with other attendees. Last-minute changes are often communicated via app. There can be prize drawings and other engagement activities. You can even create notes and follow-up reminders for later. Pro tip: Download the app and set it up before you go to avoid slow wifi, roaming, or other technical glitches.
Practice Your Introduction – Think about what you do and how to convey that to someone you’ve just met. If you represent chemical facilities in the southeastern US and have an ongoing need for chemical engineers, say that. If you specialize in sourcing candidates for other recruiters, how would you describe that to a candidate? Another recruiter? Practice saying it quickly and concisely, because no one likes to stumble through an introduction. You may need multiple versions of your elevator speech, tailored to your audience.
Bring Your Business Cards! – Full disclosure: I recently attended a trade show where I had a very specific list of people to meet … and I forgot my business cards. It’s the worst. Not only was it awkward to answer the, “Do you have a card?” question, but it also meant not be able to participate in prize drawings. Triple-check before you go to ensure you don’t do this. While you’re at it, a pen and small notepad are also handy, along with a sweater or light jacket as room temperatures can be unpredictable. Pro tip: Consider a special version of your business cards that contains your elevator speech on the back. You’ll save people from scribbling notes that they might not be able to decipher later, and it’s an easy conversation starter. You can get 100 good-quality business cards for around US $20 from online providers, so it’s worth the small investment.
What’s your favorite tip for recruiter networking events? Please share it in the comments below!