WAHC 2017: Networking

Make the Most Out of Your WAHC Experience 

Aside from all of the great educational sessions, exciting events, and gathering of industry leaders being in one place during the 1thh annual World Aquatic Health™ Conference, another perk of attending the two-day conference is the networking! Leading thinkers and influencers attend the WAHC every year with the expectation of becoming equipped to change lives and educate the industry. The WAHC aims to support the growth of the industry and its members with a focus on best practices, new technology, and continuing research within the aquatic field. Getting to know more people in this context isn’t just great for you, it’s good for the industry. To help you make the most of your October networking experience (less than two months away!), let’s review some tips:  

Have a Plan in Advance

Take a look at our line-up of speakers. Maybe there is someone in a particular field that you really wish to chat with? Well, plan today! Figure out when and where they will be speaking, and be there during and after their presentation. Having an idea of who you would like to meet and connect with can help you plot it out in advance. You can even reach out to them beforehand to set up a meeting during the conference. 

Stay at the Hotel and Eliminate a Commute

Staying on-site at the Charleston Marriott, relieves you of the hassle of traveling to meet-ups and makes it easier to connect. You don’t want to be wasting your precious time commuting when you could be meeting and greeting. Since you won’t be rushing to and from an off-site hotel, you might meet up for breakfast before the conference, or just a casual conversation in the comfort of the hotel lobby. You can get the NSPF group rate until Thursday, September 13. Plan to stay at the host hotel if you wish to get the most out of networking.

Keep Those Hands Free

What’s worse than having breakfast in one hand, coffee in the other, and wanting to shake the hand of an industry leader? Not much, aside from dropping that hot coffee on yourself, or worse, your new cohort. Yes, you need to eat while conferencing, but, if you want to impress, you’ll want to keep at least one hand free to avoid an embarrassing accident. Be sure to have a professional bag with you to store your notepad, mobile devices, and business cards. With your hands-free, you’ll have a better chance of making a proper introduction and leaving a memorable impression. Don’t be remembered as the attendee who spilled coffee while attempting an introduction.

Own the Room

Are you a wallflower and find it difficult to put yourself out there? To you, networking may seem like a HUGE feat to accomplish, but I’ve got one simple trick that may work. Get to the events early! If you’re already in a room as the crowd builds, you’ll find it less intimidating than walking into an already packed area. This will make a world of difference for those of you less-outgoing attendees who still want to get the most out of your conference time.  

Make it About Them, Not You

Don’t be that guy running out of business cards on the first day, giving them out will-nilly to everyone. You’ll want to build strong relationships with your new contacts, so make it worthwhile for both yourself and them. Establish a relationship with your new acquaintance before offering a form of future communication. 

Don’t Network On Autopilot 

You know how people suggest creating an elevator speech about who you are and what you do? Well, a conference isn’t the place for that boring old trope. Elevator pitches are one-sided, but effective networking creates a dialogue, not a presentation about yourself. This goes back to the previous point: Make It About Them, Not You. Tailor your conversation so it is appropriate to both the discussion and your partner. This is a good time to remind you of the first tip, as well: Have a Plan. Prepare for your target audience before meeting them by drafting topics you think they will find interesting. You need to remain on target from the time you begin speaking to accomplish your networking goal, but remember to keep the focus on your partner. It’s a fine line of genius to become a perfect networker. 

Don’t Daze

This goes without saying, but as a kind reminder, give your conversation partner your full attention! Don’t scan the room out of boredom or out fear of missing out on a potential connection. If you would like to move on from one person to another, politely excuse yourself from the conversation, and always thank them for their time. Why be polite when exiting the conversation? This person might be willing to introduce you to their contacts at some point in the future and you’ll want them to remember you positively.  

Remain Approachable

Wow! Being super-friendly 24/7 for a multi-day conference can be exhausting, right? Well, give yourself time to decompress outside of all of the great events we offer, and perhaps you’ll want to pep yourself up before walking into the next event. Be aware of your body language and attitude. Nobody wants to talk to an uptight, temperamental person. Keep smiling and remain friendly with your body language. Don’t cross your arms or lean up against the wall; you’re not Judd Nelson from the Breakfast Club. Also, never interrupt a conversation that is already happening without you. Wait for the conversation to finish and then introduce yourself. Don’t forget to shake hands confidently and firmly, but not so firm as to break your new friend’s hand. 

Save Face, Don’t Displace! 

It’s been a long day. A friendly face is approaching you, addressing you by your first name with a warm smile. You freeze. What’s this person’s name!? It starts with an “A,” doesn’t it? Shucks. Your chance at creating a meaningful connection is lost because you forgot the person’s name. How embarrassing. How to conquer that? Use memory joggers! Jot some notes down on the business card he or she gave you when you met. Remember a specific part of his or her appearance. It could also help to repeat the name a few times during conversation so it really sticks. If the person took the time to remember your name and you forgot his or hers, it could appear that you are disinterested, when really, perhaps, the exact opposite is true. 

Finally, Always Follow Up

So, you’ve made some great new connections, and even a few friends at the WAHC. Awesome! But don’t think you’re done, yet. When you get back to the office the following Monday, take some time in the morning to jot a note saying “It was great meeting you and talking about [insert topic here]. I look forward to continuing our relationship!” If you work or live near one another, suggest a meetup. But if you live in a different state, don’t worry! You can still exchange friendly emails and share relevant information. Don’t let the connection fall apart because of a time difference, either. Use email and social media to your advantage to create a lasting bond with your connections made at the WAHC. 

To attend the World Aquatic Health™ Conference in Charleston, SC, October 10-12, purchase your ticket today and reserve your room. If you have more questions about the WAHC please email  conference@nspf.org or call 719.540.9119.

World Aquatic Health Conference
Networking at an Educational Conference