When it comes to your career, one of the best ways to improve your prospects is through networking. The things you do now can improve your career for years to come. Networking is one of those career-making moves that should be a part of your career strategy — no matter what stage you think you’re at with your career.
While you can do your networking online, and find good contacts that way, if you really want to make personal, lasting connections, you should consider making them in person. One of the best ways to do that is through conferences.
Attend Conferences in Your Industry
Last week, registration opened for FinCon, the conference for the financial media community. As a personal finance freelancer and professional blogger, this conference is perfect for me. I have attended every year since the inception of FinCon, and I already have my ticket.
Why do I go to FinCon every year? Yes, I had a successful freelancing business before I went. However, meeting many of my clients in person, and making deeper connections with them — as well as creating bonds with new clients — has made my business even more successful.
You don’t have to attend FinCon, especially if you aren’t involved in the financial media like I am. But chances are that there are conferences held in your industry or niche. If that is the case, attending one or two a year can provide you with some advantages, including the following:
- Build stronger ties with contacts: One of the reasons I like attending FinCon is because it allows me to strengthen my ties with contacts. While you can build meaningful relationships online without meeting someone in person, there is still something about looking another person in the eye. I develop a stronger bond. It means you are more likely to keep working together, and that your contacts will be more likely to remember you and to refer you when job opportunities open up. Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to have that contact with people who “get” you.
- Learn new things: Conferences can provide you with great learning experiences. I learn something new every time I attend a conference. I learn more about the business, and I learn hacks that help me work better. This is a good way to stay on top of industry trends so that you can continue to market yourself as an “expert.” These days, it’s all about you as a brand, so you need to make sure that you are up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry.
- New contacts and sources: One of the things that helps me do my “job” better is having access to contacts and sources. FinCon allows me to add more people to my online rolodex so that I can contact them for stories. This helps me in my career as a financial journalist. However, you can be helped along in your career in the same way with new contacts and sources. Meet the industry insiders, and you’ll have an “in” the next time you are looking for a job, a recommendation, or a mentor.
Even if you aren’t looking for a new job right now, attending conferences in your industry can be a big help. The people you meet can help you open up to new opportunities and projects. I’ve been able to partner with others on interesting projects because of my attendance at FinCon.
On top of that, I find that I can help others as well. I like to be useful to others, and FinCon gives me a chance to be a mentor, as well as to learn from others.