The sixth annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit kicked-off this week at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida with hundreds of women attending invaluable panels, executive leader workshops and, of course, networking any chance they get. For those ladies who couldn’t make it this time, but want to prepare for next year’s summit or any of our other upcoming conferences (this applies to men, too), here are a few pointers on making the most out of your conference attendance. BlackEnterprise.com spoke with Pamela Mitchell, founder and chief-executive-officer of The Reinvention Institute, about wearing your very best, the importance of knowing the people and companies present and why quality trumps quantity when it comes to networking.
You want to look like you mean business, so make sure your outfit doesn’t say otherwise. Mitchell suggests donning one standout accessory, something that will draw people to you, but still is in accordance with good business sense. “Think about that one item that gives you confidence, says the reinvention guru.
HAVE YOUR POWER LOOK DOWN PAT You want to look like you mean business, so make sure your outfit doesnâ€™t say otherwise. Mitchell suggests donning one standout accessory, something that will draw people to you, but still is in accordance with good business sense. â€œThink about that one item that gives you confidence,â€ says the reinvention guru.
GET SOME SHUT-EYE Most people are guilty of staying up late the night before the conference, either to finish packing or finalizing their itinerary. The night before a conference starts can set the tone on how smoothly (or not so flawless) the next few days can go. Aim to get a good nightâ€™s rest before and during the conference. Youâ€™ll see the difference in your energy level, mood and attentiveness.
REFLECT ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER Most people go in [to the conference] thinking about what they can get, but think about what you can give, says the author of The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention. Reflecting on your self-worth, from a professional standpoint, will help when it’s time to communicate what you can bring to the table. Be clear on your value and what you have to offer.
CREATE A ONE-TWO SENTENCE SELF-PITCH You have one or two sentences to capture someone’s attention,reminds Mitchell. If it’s succinct and well-put, they’ll want to know more.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE SPEAKERS & COMPANIES IN ATTENDANCE Don’t wait until the first day to see who’s present and what corporations are represented at the conference. If you do your research ahead of time, you can zero in on the speakers as well as company representatives you’d like to connect with before the close of the event. You’ll also know more than what is listed under his or her bio on the program. It always looks good if you can state more than the obvious when striking up a conversation with these individuals.
HAVE A GOOD TIME You’re in business mode, but don’t forget to enjoy your time at the conference.
IDENTIFY THREE PEOPLE YOU WANT TO BUILD A PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH Although you want to meet as many people as possible, you have to be strategic when it comes to networking. The idea of you going to meet 15 or so people, giving out your business cards and actually connecting with them is unrealistic, says Mitchell. You’ve done your research, now pin-point those one or two people you share common ground with whether that’s career, professional goals or even hometown. These genuine meet-ups tend to outlast the barrage of business cards and fast chatter.
MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW-UP & STAND OUT DOING SO Sending a follow-up email is good, but you want to make sure you’re remembered. Try sending either a hand-written thank-you note or even an online greeting. Mitchell recommends using SendOutCards.com, which allows you to customize your digital cards for a set price. After meeting someone who she’s now very close to at a convention, Mitchell sent the professional a card from the site. It made a memorable impression on the professional, who classified it as quite creative. She was even able to include her own handwriting and a snapshot the two took at the conference.
Have a question for someone appearing at the conference? Just log on to blackenterprise.com/wps and we’ll be sure to answer the question live!