With the DEMA conference just a couple of weeks away, it is time to start preparing for the unique opportunities that come with meeting other industry professionals from across the country and abroad. For job hunters, this raises the stakes even further. The conference is an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with agencies, employers and experienced private service professionals.
But how does one capitalize on these new contacts without being pushy, rude or self-absorbed?
Try these conference etiquette tips to make the most of this opportunity:
1. Seek relationships, not contacts.
A contact is nothing more than a name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile address. Job seekers could have found that information at home! Instead, use the conference as a chance to really get to know other people in the industry. If you can build a friendship or a mutually beneficial professional relationship, people are more likely to help you in your job search. After all, nobody appreciates being leveraged just because of their work title or their placement agency name.
2. Show genuine interest in others.
So how does one build a relationship? By caring about the other person. Don’t spend all of the networking opportunities talking about only their work or your career goals. Find out some personal information about them. Find ways that you could help them in their own careers or lives.
3. Have fun, but not TOO much fun
Over the years, I have heard plenty of stories of people who forget that a conference is a professional event. Watch how much you drink. Don’t fall into gossip about past principals, co-workers, agencies and so on. Above all, don’t let your new professional relationships get toooo personal… ’nuff said. You don’t want to become the next piece of gossip!
4. Dress for the part
Most conference attire ranges between business casual and business dress. Remember, you will be meeting people for the first time, and you will be judged by how you look. Think about the image you want to create in their minds.
For extra activities outside of the conference or in evening networking sessions, casual attire is acceptable, but stick to the conservative side.
5. Don’t throw the resume too soon.
As the DEMA conference will be an excellent time to network with agencies and employers, don’t drop a resume bomb on somebody in the first 10 minutes of the conversation. You do want to bring several copies of your resume with you, however, be selective about who receives it. Be sure that the agency fits in with your professional goals. For example, you wouldn’t list yourself with a nanny agency if you are a private chef.
Always ask IF the agent would like a printed copy of your resume. Many agents don’t want to carry around loose papers throughout the conference. In that case, offer to email it to them later – OR…
6. Put your social media information on your business card.
LinkedIn.com is not only a powerful networking tool, and it can serve as your online resume as well. When handing your card to someone, be sure to point out all of your contact information, including your online presence. Some job seekers use their own website for their resume; that works too, although it loses the ability to tap a network. If you want to look really slick, grab one of the free QR Codes and place the scanable square on your business card. Then smart phone users can grab that image and be instantly taken to any website you desire.
7. Follow up with people
Even during the conference, you can build your network. If you have a smart phone, use your LinkedIn.com app to invite them to connect with you. If the agency has a Facebook page, start following right away – maybe they are posting about the conference right now!
After the conference, be sure to follow up on those new relationships. If you didn’t get the chance during the conference, connect on LinkedIn.com. Send them the resume you promised. Call to see if they need any other information. Consider this: you made a promise to your new friend that you would send information. This is the first test to see if you are a person of your word.