“Succeeding in business is all about making connections.”  ~Richard Branson

It’s less than four weeks until the FPSA Annual Conference kicks off in Orlando, FL, March 26-28. Are you ready to learn and network? Networking at events is a great way to make new connections and cultivate relationships that may help you professionally and personally. Here are five tips to help you prepare beforehand so that you can have an enjoyable and successful time while you’re at the event.

1. Before the event, identify your goals. Research the event agenda and speakers. Determine which sessions you’ll be attending. If you’re interested in meeting a speaker, reach out to him or her ahead of time. Schedule appointments.

2. Read up on the latest industry news by checking out relevant publications – print, web site, social media. Pick out topics for conversation starters.

3. Come up with 2-3 meaningful questions to ask people who you’re meeting for the first time. Get them to open up about themselves. Don’t start off with your elevator pitch. People can tell if you have an agenda. During sessions, introduce yourself to the people next to you!

4. Bring a lot of business cards. Collect cards. If possible, use your badge holder to hold your business cards. Don’t forget to utilize their business cards to make notes for later follow-up.

5. Don’t miss networking opportunities by checking your smartphone or powering up your laptop during the breaks. Now is the time to make face-to-face connections.

Preparing is important, but don’t think about it too much. If you’re fully committed to networking, you will be successful. With the right attitude, you’ll be able to enjoy a valuable opportunity to make new connections, learn something new, and also teach others.

By Grace Cular Yee