12 Tips For Meeting People At Conferences

For the past few days I’ve been in Las Vegas, Nevada at the BlogWorld New Media Expo working on a upcoming project for CoxBlue.com. I was there meeting, filming and talking to a number of today’s leaders in the field of Social Media, New Media,and Digital Marketing. It was an amazing experience and I’ll share many of the takeaways in an upcoming post.

Blog World 2013

Attending conferences provides a great opportunity to learn a lot and meet people, thought leaders and experts in your industry.

Below are 12 tips to keep in mind before, during and after the conference.

1) Stay in the same hotel as the conference is being held. A “chance” meeting in the lobby, the hotel coffee shop, or elsewhere can help “break the ice” and lead to additional opportunities for a conversation later in the conference.

2) Go prepared. If there are specific people you hope to meet and talk to, do your research and prepare ahead of time. Read their latest book or blog posts, search for the latest news on their company, niche, project, etc. Have your initial questions or a comment prepared ahead of time.

3) Send an email prior to the event and use the same approach mentioned above. Let them know that you value their work and would like to take a minute or two at the conference to introduce yourself.

4) Introduce yourself. Many times at conferences I see people begin to approach someone they would like to meet only to stop 5-10 feet away and go into “hover mode”. Nothing makes a person more nervous than the possibility that a stalker is nearby. Complete your approach and simply introduce yourself.

5) It’s okay to check out someones name-tag if you want to know who “that someone” is. Be sure your name-tag is visible so others can identify you. Schmoozing at a conference is perfectly acceptable and probably one of the leading causes of strained eyes and necks.

6) Get on the various lists for conference related dinners, meet-ups and conference-wrap parties. These are great social opportunities. Contact the conference organizer ahead of time for information and details.

7) Keep in mind most people at the conference are in the same situation as you… That is, thinking that they don’t know anyone there. During the various sessions, introduce yourself to the people on both sides of you.

8) Have an exit strategy – Inevitably you will end up in a conversation you wish you had never started. Be prepared to politely and gracefully excuse yourself. (This is more of a “how not to meet someone at a conference”)

9) There’s an app for that – in fact, there are many. I use Banjo. Banjo app is a terrific social discovery tool that lets me know when people within my networks are nearby. It provides a simple interface for saying hello and is really easy to set up and use. I’ve used it at numerous conferences and its one of my favorites.

10) If working out is a regular part of your day, go to the hotel gym. Its a great place to meet other conference-goers in an “outside the conference” environment.

11) Don’t forget your business cards. You may have only a brief moment to make contact with someone and handing them a business card is always better than a missed opportunity.

12) After the conference, don’t forget to follow up. You should have a number of business cards from people you’ve met. Send an e-mail or Linkedin invite summarizing an interesting point from the conversation and suggest whatever follow-up is appropriate (phone call, coffee/lunch, or simply “let’s keep in touch”).

Do you have any additional tips?  Let other’s know in the comments below.

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Martin Jones
Martin Jones is Social Media Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution across each of the company’s social media platforms. Today, over 500k fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube and Google+. His career has been characterized by his ability to work with groups, individuals and businesses to uncover, optimize and implement digital marketing strategies and tactics that propel them past their competition. Thoughts expressed here are his own.
Martin Jones


  1. says

    Excellent post Martin, these are all great tips for getting the most out of a conference, event. I think #12 is extremely important, without follow through all the other tips are useless. I noticed you did not recommend getting rip roaring drunk and closing the hotel bar with a Coyote Ugly style dance on the bar….LOL
    Excellent job Martin I am keeping this one for future reminders….

    • says

      "I noticed you did not recommend getting rip roaring drunk and closing the hotel bar with a Coyote Ugly style dance on the bar…." that was tip number 13 Gerry. I convinced Martin that we should leave that one off. :)

  2. martinjonesaz says

    Yeah, I would kinda avoid Tip 13…. although I have seen a couple of people who didn't. It never ends well. :-)

  3. says

    Great tips, Martin.
    One of the things I enjoy at conferences is seeing how people try to check out your name tag without appearing obvious. This happens especially when you recognize them and address them by name.
    It's actually more unsettling than just all in out looking at it then making eye contact with you.
    Makes me wonder if my fly is open ;-)
    Thanks for the "Banjo" tip.

  4. Joe Slaughter says

    These tips are great. Thanks for the Banjo tip & for the warning about "bar dances." (Somehow, those type things never seem to work out like the movies.)

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