October 7, 2010

Making the Most of Industry Events

No matter what industry interests you, there are professional events scheduled to help workers connect and learn more about their field.

In less than a week, I’ll be heading to BlogWorld, which is one of the largest conferences in my field (jobs for freelance writers and bloggers), but it isn’t just bloggers and other Internet workers who have relevant events available. From doctors to wedding planners to mechanics – every type of worker can find industry events to attend.

If you’re unemployed, looking for a new job, or thinking about switching careers, attending industry events has a number of advantages. First, you’ll be able to get advanced education in the field in most cases, since events usually feature panels, keynote speakers, or workshops. You’ll also be able to connect to some of the most successful people in your industry. Finding a job is easier if you network with people who are already working in your field of choice. Some people are industry events may even be on the lookout for new talent. After attending an event, you could find yourself with a job interview if you say hello to the right person!

How can you make the most of an industry event? Consider the following tips:

  • Take business cards and carry a pen. Even if you don’t have a job title at the moment, you should have a card that includes you name and contact information. You can get basic business cards printed for under $20, so there’s really no reason not to do it. Trust me – people won’t take the time to write down your information. If you don’t have a card, you’ll be forgotten when the event is over. Carry the pen so you can write notes on the backs of any business card you receive. Otherwise, you might forget who people are when you get home.
  • Register early. You’ll often save 50 percent or more off the ticket price if you go for the early bird discount, and as an additional advantages, you may also be able to save on hotel costs. Many events have a block of hotel rooms set aside at a discounted price, but once those rooms are gone, you’ll pay full price for your stay.
  • Dress the part. If you’re looking for a job, don’t show up to an event in a t-shirt and jeans. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit if it isn’t appropriate to your industry, but at least wear slacks and a button-down shirt. It never hurts to look professional.
  • Go to after parties. The event itself might be great, but much of the real networking is done at after parties. Avoid drinking too much and meet as many people as possible. If the event tickets are too expensive, consider traveling to be in town anyway and just hang out at the after parties and meet-ups going on during the days of the event.
  • Have some basic copies of your resume on hand. If you’re job hunting, keeping some in your laptop back means that you can give one to someone who shows legitimate interest. If they have your resume, they’re likely to remember you or pass on that information. With just a business card, they might forget to follow up with you.
  • Speaking of following up, do it with everyone you meet. You never know who could help you get a job in the future, so a quick email that says, “Glad to have met you” is important for keeping the connection open.

Have you ever been to an industry event? Give us some of your best tips by leaving a comment!

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