Project Management Q&A: What Should I Have or Do During Conferences?

What should early career project managers, searching for jobs, have or do during conferences?

Any kind of networking is a good activity to do for anyone looking for a new job – and project management conferences give plenty of opportunities. Here are some ideas to get you started as you prepare to attend your conference.

You need some form of business card – or go one step further and choose a format that allows you to share not only your contact details but also some headline details about what it is you do / what you’re looking for. You need to prepare your introductions to people beforehand too – think about the ‘elevator pitch’, what do you want people to know and remember about you. It’s always better to prepare and practice beforehand so you’ll feel confident on the day.

Another great networking tip is to know how to break in and take part in a conversation. Look for the triangle – three people speaking together who have left the fourth part of the square open for you to step forward and introduce yourself.  You’re going to need a way to record who’s card you took, brief notes about any conversations you’ve had and what you plan to do to follow up. It’s also a good idea to quickly add that connection to Linkedin too if you can.

At the conference, make sure you take advantage of any organised networking parts of it – pre-conference drinks; networked lunch meetings, post-conference dinners. Wherever there is an opportunity to spark up a conversation, do it. In the line for lunch; whilst you’re waiting for a session to fill up and start; as you line up for a book signing and visiting the exhibitors.

Don’t forget the exhibitor part of the conference – these people know a lot of people in your industry and they’re great at helping you make further connections. Add a social media Twitter handle to your conference badge and take part in the social streams at the conference, people always like to connect virtually as well as in-person.

Conference apps are also a great way to find out who is attending the conference and do some research beforehand about any contacts you would like to try and meet.

The final thing, of course, is to enjoy the learning aspects of the conference too, soak up the new knowledge and use that in your upcoming project manager interviews – show prospective employers you’re a keen self-developer and keep up to date with new and emerging trends in project management.

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