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The following article was written by Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon and reprinted with premission.

How to Connect at ConferencesWhat’s so hard about going to a conference? You send in your registration, buy your plane ticket, pack your suitcase, and go. Right?

Wrong. That’s the way most people go to conventions. What you actually gain from a conference depends on what you do to get the most out of the experience. Use these ten tips to make this convention a valuable professional and personal experience.

1. Get ready to GIVE.
Make a list of things to share with the people you meet: new resources, your special expertise, solutions to problems, successes.

2. Figure out what you want to GET.
Jot down what you want to find: answers to challenges, solutions to problems, resources you need, and people you’d like to meet.

3. Take along other people’s agendas.
Get more bang for your buck and build your relationships with colleagues. Collect their concerns and hunt for answers for them.
Motivational Conference Speaker

4. Pick sessions carefully.
Focus on the knowledge you need and the skills you want to develop. Look for the right sessions that will force you to re-evaluate, plan for the future, expand your horizons.

5. Put ideas to use.
Get together with colleagues and have a “How-are-we-going-to-apply-this” brainstorming session after a keynote or seminar.

6. Think of a question or two to ask a speaker.
Let the experts help you solve a problem or meet a challenge.

7. Design your own session.
Before the conference begins, contact a speaker, a leader, an expert, or a counterpart from a similar organization and plan to get together.

8. Volunteer for a job at the conference.
Helping out makes it easy to meet people, gain professional visibility, mingle with the leaders, and build a nationwide network.

9. Sit with strangers.
Take every opportunity to meet someone new. Tell yourself that there are no accidental meetings and try to figure out what you and the other person have in common.

10. Look for excuses to introduce people to each other.
Find out what others are looking for and help them connect with resources and contacts.

Use all these tips and you’ll get the most out of meeting so many!

Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are founders of Contacts Count, the premier consulting and training firm specializing in business and professional networking. For more information, visit their website at ContactsCount.com