WAHC 2018: 10 Networking How-To's

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 15th 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 elevating 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 a month away!), let’s review some tips:  

1. Have a Plan in Advance

Take a look at our lineup of speakers. Maybe there is someone in a particular field that you really want to touch base 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. 

2. 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 waste 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 luck into a casual conversation in the comfort of the hotel lobby. Plan to stay at the host hotel if you want to get the most out of networking.

3. Keep Those Hands Free

The only thing worse than trying to shake hands while juggling your coffee and your phone is spilling said coffee on yourself or your new connection. Yes, you need to charge up 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.

4. Own the Room

Are you a wallflower and find it difficult to put yourself out there? To you, networking may seem daunting, 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.  

5. Make it About Them, Not You

Don’t be the one running out of business cards on the first day because you gave them out willy-nilly. 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. 

6. 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. Tailor your conversation so it is attentive and engaged. 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. 

7. 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, and resist the urge to check your phone. If you would like to move on, politely excuse yourself from the conversation, and always thank people 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.

8. 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. Keep smiling and remain friendly with your body language. 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. 

9. Adopt a Proactive Strategy for Remembering Names 

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? Hmmm... How to conquer that? Well, while there may be no solution for this in the short term (aside from being polite and thinking on your toes), you can make a practice of strengthening your long-term memory. 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 someone's name a few times during conversation so it really sticks.

10. Finally, Always Follow Up

So, you’ve made some great new connections, and even a few friends at the WAHC. Awesome! But you’re not 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 even if you live in a different state, 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.

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