This One Time, At Summer Brand Camp
All this month we have been discussing the importance of professional development in advancing your career, and we thought we’d share an example of a great opportunity we had to network and learn some new things! Earlier in June, members of the fresh&easy human resources team traveled to Dallas, Texas for an event called Summer Brand Camp, a business and networking conference for marketing, human resources, and operations professionals. We had a lot of fun, but more importantly we met and got to learn from some of the biggest names in business today!
Events like Summer Brand Camp can be a turning point for your career. Sitting among other people who share your interests and passion may spark the idea that lands you a job. You may literally bump into someone who becomes your next boss, or learn new techniques to apply to your job whose success propels you to a promotion.
So, how do you get the most out of an event like this? How do you even find one? Here are some tips and resources to help you get started!
Finding Business and Industry Events
You may be surprised at how many networking events already exist in your area. Some will be major events that draw people from out of town, and others will be smaller, more intimate gatherings, like a weekly get-together at a local restaurant. Here are a few websites where you can find events:
- Trade Show News Network
- LinkedIn Events
- Events in America
How to Prepare for a Networking Event
Once you’ve found an event, registered, and marked off your calendar, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to make an impression on the people you meet. Here are some things to think about:
- What to Bring: If you’re going to a dinner or drinks get-together, a business card is probably sufficient. If the event is more geared towards job seekers, it may be appropriate to have copies of your resume or portfolio on hand.
- What to Wear: As above, what you want to wear will depend on the kind of event you’re attending. It’s probably always safe to wear business attire, but dial up the formality for a major conference and stick to business casual for a weekly dinner gathering.
What to Do Once You’re There
The day has finally arrived! You have a brand-new business card holder with your brand-new business cards tucked in the pocket of your clean, pressed slacks. You step through the door, and… then what?
A big event like Summer Brand Camp is usually divided up into panels, speeches, and social gatherings, so you’ll want to do some research ahead of time to see what’s on the schedule that matches your interests. Make sure to get a schedule once you’re on-site, though, in case any changes have been made!
No matter what size the event you’re attending is, the first thing you’ll want to do is listen. Listen to the speaker, listen to the people who are already gathered, and get a sense of the social vibe surrounding you. It’s amazing what you can learn if you’re willing to sit down and listen for a while!
Next, you’ll want to talk with as many people at the event as possible. Exchange business cards or other contact information, and then follow up with an email, a follow on Twitter, a connect on LinkedIn, or contact via whatever other network is appropriate. Following up is vital: your contact may meet hundreds of people at the event, but the ones who will stand out are the ones who show initiative and follow-through!
Make sure you know if your event has any special networking opportunities. For example, it may have a forum where you can connect with other attendees before, during, or after the event. Summer Brand Camp has its own popular hashtag, #PRSCamp, that continues to update long after the event passes each year.
Once It’s Over
In addition to following up with your new contacts, make sure you maintain the relationships you’ve built. Stay involved wherever you can, whenever you can. Do favors when the opportunity arises. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your reputation can build when you’re friendly and helpful! Look for opportunities to meet up with your contacts in person, whether for one-on-one business lunches or at other networking events.
Want another opportunity to network? Follow our HR team on Twitter: @FandEcareers, @Emma_Weare, @MelanieTom, @C_Almanza, @LynnCmbl, @JwRECfe, @FnEdTC, @swiley80, @JugneetSethi, @s_harry42, and @becca_ramirez. You can also reach us on LinkedIn and Google+!
Tags: industry events, networking, networking events, personal branding, professional development, professional events