How do I network at conferences and events?

A question we often hear from Alumni members is "When I’m trying to network at a conference or event, how do I most effectively approach people and get the most of the time available?"

Some of you have probably experienced this, so how do you tackle the situation? Follow the discussion below for an insight into this


Good question! It often comes down to whether or not the conference organizer offers a good scheduling option before the conference. If the conference attendee is left to his or her own devices in terms of scheduling (i.e. if the conference organizer doesn't provide list of participants until the last minute, or facilitate the scheduling process in some way), the takeaways from the conference can be very limited because you end spending a lot of time trying to schedule last-minute meetings onsite (and sometimes without any luck).

So I would encourage anyone who is thinking about participating in a conference to make sure the conference is well-organized and provides a good pre-conference scheduling option before paying the (sometimes sizeable) registration fee. Also - and this may vary by industry - I would REALLY encourage you to participate in the 'social' activities at the conference (receptions, networking sessions, etc.). In my industry (international higher education) it is priceless and a very significant factor in building a solid network, and it is a great way to learn more about what goes on 'behind the scenes'!


From my experience asking questions such as “What’s your purpose by attending this event?” or “What’s your focus right now?” or “Are you looking for some specific knowledge or contacts at the moment?” is a good approach. If you get a list of the participants before the event, you can also prepare whom you would like to talk with and how you will approach them.

But in my experience it's often difficult to find specific persons at big events, so be open-minded and network with everybody you meet - perhaps you can give them something they are looking for. So mingle and be open to others who approach you – standing in a group you can signal with your body language that you are open for new participants by standing open and making space for interested.

Try and remember that you create relations at an event, and then you can network with them later. Meaning; that often there is not enough time to actually network with people you meet, so instead focus on creating the relation and agreeing on how to network later – perhaps you will just link on a social media, so you are in each other’s network for future use - or maybe you have some specific topics to discuss/help each other with and then you agree on at networking meeting.


I do agree both Kirsten's and Charlotte's points and may only add, that if you have a chance to become a speaker at the conference and you manage your speech successfully, this will lead to a lot of contacts eventually both during the Conference and after. Often the organizers also have Advisory Boards in the preparation phase and if you have the opportunity to become member of such the planning position is even better. I have applied this strategy many times internationally and latest in Copenhagen 20th March at the Danish-Turkish CEO Business Forum organised by the Danish Federation of Industries.


I believe it was Woody Allen who said "80% of success is showing up". So if you make it through the front door, then you're more than halfway there (according to Woody). No doubt, entering a room full of strangers can be a daunting task for most people. But you'd be surprised to see how a smile, eye-contact and a simple "hi" can kickstart a conversation (and lead to networking opportunities). I'd love to hear what "ice-breakers" work best for others...


Jeg sidder til daglig i et job, hvor vores hovedopgave netop er at arrangere netværksmøder, konferencer osv. Jeg kunne rigtig godt tænke mig at høre Charlotte Junges bud på, hvordan hun mener, man som konferencearrangør bedst griber opgaven med "networking" an. Vi får meget delte tilbagemeldinger, når vi forsøger at arrangere noget "faciliteret networking" og er generelt lidt tilbageholdende med det, fordi vi oplever at mange helst vil styre det selv. Men hvad er ekspertens (Charlotte Junge) holdning til, hvordan man griber det an som arrangør - og hvad er holdningerne blandt jer, der selv går til konferencer. Foretrækker I faciliteret netværk (og har I erfaringer med, hvad der virker bedst) - eller vil I helst "overlades til jer selv"?


Hi Randi, I will answer in English so others also can get my advice. As the responsible for events I think that it's very important to facilitate the networking - it just doesn't happen if we leave the participants on their own. I recommend that you have a specific time schedule for the networking, that you are very strict keeping the time, that you mix the participants so they meet new people, and that you pose relevant questions or set up topics for the participants to network about. All of you out there; what's your experience? - do you prefer facilitated networking or would you rather be on your own?