8 Tips for a 90-Second Professional Networking Encounter

speednetworking-2This is a heyday for face-to-face professional conferences. Technology has fractured attention spans as well as business and personal relationships, and live networking experiences have arisen to provide what gadgets and social networking can't provide.

At PR News' recent conferences we've taken networking very literally and have begun including speed networking sessions. We give attendees 90 seconds to introduce themselves to each other, exchange cards, mention communications challenges they're facing, and then we ring chimes. Time to move on to the next person. The energy level is always incredible, and the session are extremely difficult to bring to a close.

PR News will be featuring a morning speed networking session at this Thursday's Social Media Conference in New York. If you're planning on being there bring your business cards and when you hear the man with the microphone ring the chimes (that would be me) please introduce yourself to the next person in line—easing yourself out of a conversation is a skill all its own. And here are some tips to make all your brief, face-to-face networking encounters memorable and worthwhile:

1. Make eye contact.

2. Be a listener first, then you can tailor the information you have to share to match their interests.

3. Remember a specific detail from a conversation and write it down to bring it up in future conversations.

4. Turn your phone off and hand out business cards.

5. Ask questions that you actually want to hear the answers to.

6. When introduced to someone, say their name out loud immediately so it sticks in your head.

7. Avoid annoying self-promotion.

8. Let your counterpart know that you would like to hear from them again. This is not always obvious if it remains unsaid.

At the Social Media Conference we're also going to ask the creative agency and brand forces behind Hotel.com's successful #SkipTheLine campaign at this year's SXSW to retrace the decision-making and accountability that went into it. We'll also be hearing from speakers at the following organizations: Alembic Health Communications, American Heart Association, DoSomething.org, D S Simon Productions, EMC, GE, Google, Finn Partners, Investis, JetBlue Airways, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, Peppercomm, the Rockefeller Foundation and Transamerica. There's still time to register.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI