I recently had the opportunity to attend (and speak at) the LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference on building an alumni relations program. It was great to see old friends and make new ones, and learn from others in the industry.

In-person conferences are so important for your personal branding, business development and professional development.

Here are a few things I’ve learned on how to maximize your conference experiences.

Seize the Opportunity. If certain speakers resonated with you or inspired you, take the opportunity to email them or send a personal note on LinkedIn, and tell them why.

This type of gesture is a great way to build relationships, add valuable contacts to your network and potentially even gain a mentor or two. Genuine compliments are a great way to build stronger relationships with those individuals who you aspire to get to know better.

Become a Thought Leader. Professional conferences and events are great opportunities to position yourself as a thought leader. Offering value-added, educational content during and after a conference is a strategic way to enhance your professional stature, which, in turn, can open other professional doors. Try publishing a post just like I’m doing here. Make sure to tag the individuals mentioned in the tweets and from the sessions you cover to foster relationship building.

You could also do a post-event survey of attendees on their favorite takeaway/insight from the conference, which you can turn into a story. It’s all about being resourceful and thinking about your audience.

Be a Superconnector. If you made a contact at the conference who might benefit another contact, follow up and make the introduction. You can be of tremendous value to your network (and build stronger relationships) by connecting people to each other. They will appreciate you for introducing them, and you will strengthen your relationship to each of them in the process, which is a win-win for everyone, most importantly, you.

A Final Note. If you think of every professional activity – such as attending a conference– as a way to build your own brand and cultivate relationships, you will more effectively maximize every opportunity you have to differentiate yourself!

Find more tips on maximizing your in-person conference experiences.

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