If you’re like most of the busy professionals who attend SouthWiRED, you’re always on the go. Between responsibilities at home and in your office, you may feel like you don’t have the stamina to hit up that networking event on the way home. You know you could make powerful connections and build new friendships if you did, but even the thought of talking to a bunch of new people makes you tired. If regular networking fatigues you, then conference networking might exhaust you. But when you attend a conference like SouthWiRED with the goal of getting the most out of your networking opportunities, you don’t have time to feel like your energy is sapped. You need to meet and connect with people to the best of your ability while you still have the chance. And that takes energy, enthusiasm, and focus. But how can you maintain that during the stresses of networking with strangers? In a previous post, we introduced you to the idea of RELIEF: Research, Energize, Look, Introduce, Engage, and Follow-Up. If you follow these steps, then you’ll power through your next networking events like a seasoned pro. First, Research the conference’s speakers, sponsors, attendees, topics, and venues. After you’ve done that, it’s time to Energize: build yourself up physically, mentally, and spiritually to have the energy you need for sustained socializing and networking.
Be Energized So You Won’t Be Paralyzed
In the weeks leading up to the conference, devote some time each day to energizing yourself. Presumably, you would want to energize yourself through time spent doing an activity you enjoy. You know yourself, and what activities energize you, better than anyone else. But if you keep these guidelines in mind, you can recharge your batteries in way that optimizes your conference networking success:
- Get plenty of good sleep. You can’t perform at your peak if you’re a sleep-deprived zombie. Studies increasingly show that sleep is critical for your physical and mental well-being. You’ll have more fun and feel more confident if you’re networking in a well-rested state. So in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the event, commit yourself to catching all the Z’s that you know you need.
- Move around. You already know that exercise is good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain. If you exercise to build a healthier brain, you’ll have more of the mental energy you need to stay sharp while networking. And since exercising also strengthens your body, you’ll have more physical energy you need to overcome stress. Conferences usually entail a lot of sitting so find a way to stretch your legs between sessions. Take a walk around the building or walk to lunch, stand up and stretch your arms while getting coffee — just commit to doing more of any physical activity that you already enjoy. So find a way to add some more exercise into your daily habits. Build these habits before the conference and continue them throughout it.
- Seek inspiration. Just because you’re attending a week-long conference doesn’t mean you can’t continue regularly indulging in activities that leave you feeling emotionally and spiritually recharged. During the breaks read a good book, walk around the building, meditate, or meet a new connection for coffee. Just do something that leaves you feeling inspired, motivated, and rejuvenated. When you feel inspired, you’re more charismatic. And if you’re charismatic, networking will feel like a breeze. Your contagious feelings of peace and enthusiasm will enrapture the people around you, and you’ll all have more fun and make better connections.
- Educate yourself. Return to the first step of RELIEF, Research, and open up your mind to learning. Take the time to educate yourself about any subject that you enjoy, not just the topics covered at the conference you’re attending. Learn more about your favorite hobby, study your genealogy, or become an expert on your dog’s breed. When you’re knowledgeable about something, you feel confident. You’re also more interesting to the people around you. And being confident and interesting will make your networking go a lot more smoothly.
If you take the time to invest in Energizing yourself before SouthWiRED or another conference, then you’ll be a better networker. And when you’re a better networker, you’ll discover a wealth of benefits to your personal and professional lives. Now that you’ve learned about the pre-conference portion of RELIEF, Research and Energize, it’s time to move on to the step that actually happens at the event: the “L” stands for Look. Watch for our next post, where you’ll learn how and why it’s so important to Look at a conference.
-Martha Jean Schindler