Relationships are the backbone of any business, more so in this regional and global economy. Many of these relationships are initiated, maintained, and nurtured at professional networking events. As Metcalf’s Law describes it, the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number connections. Accordingly, the value of your network is related to its size. The value of these events comes from the ties you build—both weak and strong—with a wide array of professionals, beyond just your clients; hence, the value of attending conferences, fora, and professional associations meetings comes from the connections you build, may it be weak or strong.
By engaging with delegates, speakers, and also the organizers of these types of events will give you valuable insights about the market, prospective partners, competitors, potential employees, and even potential employers through an extensive personal and professional network. That’s why it’s critical to exchange information with other delegates that they will find valuable. Such information may be any of the following:
Leads—These are business opportunities for partnerships, acquisitions, or simply for selling products and services. Leads can be “hot” or may progress in the future, but the important thing is the insight one gains on potential business partners and clients. Leads may come from introductions from a friend with other delegates.
Trends—The conference speakers will share industry trends, both regional and global. Besides, personal or group discussions with delegates can shed insights on trends that may just be starting, and may prove to be valuable input for your business plans. Has capital spending peaked in certain market? Are there new practices on risk management?
Industry updates and insights—Conferences and professional events are also a great source of industry news that you will probably not get from other sources. As the delegates will come from various industries across the globe, you can gain insights on your industry or related industries that will be valuable for your business plans.
While you will receive valuable insights, leads, and trends during networking activities, it’s important that you maintain your credibility by following through on your promises, such as the need to send an email update or a call. Your network grows stronger as you deal with it with integrity and credibility.
The author is a senior executive in the information and communications technology sector. He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He is also Adjunct faculty of the Asian Institute of Management. The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FINEX. The author may be emailed at email@example.com or visit his website at www.reylugtu.com.