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5 Ways to Network At Conferences When You Know No One

By Jame Jackson Attending a conference alone can be daunting, not even taking into account the networking. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to stand out from the crowd.

  1. Remember Others Are In The Same Boat As You

Though it can seem scary, remember that you are not the only person who will be at the conference riding solo. If you find someone else sitting off in the corner alone, go and introduce yourself! Not only are you likely to make a conference buddy, but you’ve also helped someone else get out of their lonely bubble. Another great way to meet people is to use the conference hashtag and find any like-minded souls to follow on Twitter.

  1. Go To The Events, Even the Ones You Don’t Think You’ll Like

One of the greatest lessons I learned when I moved to New York City is that it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if you aren’t visible. Even if there are events at the conference that may not necessarily tickle your fancy, you should still try to go. First, you never know who you may meet with somewhat similar interests. Second, it’s extremely important to show face so people know what you look like! Though I am a style and beauty kind of gal, I attended a finance event that talked about Wall Street, business acquisition, and words I had never heard before. Though I was confused the majority of the time, I  walked away realizing I wanted to learn more about the subject matter and even met people who I was able to connect with later on back in NYC. I’m still not good at finances, but at least I tried something new.

  1. Dress the Part (You Never Know the Doors It’ll Open!)

The saying of “fake it till you make it” is extremely real. If you want people to associate you as a fashion editor, dress the part. That doesn’t mean you have to wear designer threads and amass a second mortgage payment’s worth of shoes, but it does mean do the simple things: define your aesthetic, look put together, and maybe sport one trendy item! The funny thing about appearance is, while slightly shallow, people in your field may naturally gravitate towards you, depending on who they THINK you are. Who knows, you may find yourself networking yourself into the role of your dreams, simply because people already thought you were whatever you were shooting for.

  1. Always Have Business Cards

Please, for the love of all that is good and necessary, bring a business card. While many millennials are quicker to ask for your LinkedIn, there’s something tangible about leaving a business card with someone immediately after a good conversation. Don’t forget to ask your office manager at least a month in advance to get yours if you’re representing your company. Going solo? Brands like Vistaprint, Moo, and Tiny Cards all have promotions for new customers, in addition to easy, stylish templates. Best part? You can expense the cost on your taxes, too.

5. Practice Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch may hold more weight than anything else you say, and yet, we all start with the same “Hi, my name is…and I do…I want to do…” Why not try switching up the format of your elevator pitch or even how you tell it? Start off with an inspiring story, an article you read that you think is relevant, or mention a major trending movement that you love. At a breakout session at SxSW, I started my 30-second elevator pitch with: “I might just be the next Miranda Priestly or even Oprah.” Not the most conventional, but it’s intriguing, right? Stand out from the crowd by presenting yourself as someone different from the person next to you.

Jamé Jackson is a fashion and beauty writer and motivational speaker based in New York City. She can be seen spreading love and female empowerment through her Instagram, TheBlondeMisfit and website, Theblondemisfit.com, which chronicles her life adventures.

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