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On Wednesday morning, I leave to fly to California where I will be attending my first conference EVER! Now, to be fair, I’ve attended many conferences before…but as an intern. I’ve ordered lunch, ran errands, ran through downtown Denver (which is harder than one initially thinks) to pick-up my boss’ prescription before the pharmacy closed and many more non-glamorous tasks. This will be the first conference that I will be an attendee. Like a real grown-up professional. Legit.

Today I’ve been preparing. Printing out the conference schedule and speaker bios and organizing a binder which will hold all these details and more. I’ve also been researching the speakers for each conference session I’ll be attending.

So excited to network and to learn more strategies to be a more successful professional.

I’m still in the process of one last detail-outlining my networking goals. While I was still in college, Mindy Lockard, etiquette expert, came to the PR firm I worked for and talked about how to network successfully. She mentioned something that has always stuck with me, networking  goals.

Before every networking event, I make a list of goals, usually 3-5.

For example:

  • Exchange business cards with five people
  • Have a meaningful conversation with Mrs. Smith and leave a good impression
  • Move conversation groups every 5 minutes

I don’t let myself leave the event until I’ve completed each and every one of my goals.

Now, these of course vary greatly depending on the size and duration of the event. For a two-day conference, there’s lots of room and seemingly endless amounts of time to accomplish my networking goals.

For this conference, I’ve decided to make a list of 5-10 people that I want to be sure to connect with. This can be a casual conversation, or a brief chat with others, but with those people I want to give them my business card and connect on LinkedIn. Additionally, I’m making a list of 2-3 people that I want to invite to coffee, drinks or invite to sit together at breakfast or lunch one day. These are people who I want to have an informal informational interview with.

I’ll be honest and say that at this point, I’m pretty overwhelmed and no where near finalizing that list. Thankfully I have tomorrow off work, so that should help.

Now, back to packing, updating the software on my iPhone and iPad, drinking another cup of coffee and finishing some laundry.