How to Prepare to Network at CattleCon19

I am so excited to explore a new city and network with amazing individuals in the beef industry, but there is a lot of preparation and homework to do before showing up to the convention center; especially as a college student soon entering the job market. Whether you are graduating college soon or attending NCBA's Annual Convention for the first time, here are a few networking preparations you may consider before arriving in New Orleans.

1. Up-to-date business cards. 

I ordered 500 business cards my freshman year of college and I've been trying to get rid of them ever since, but a good business card is a necessity when you meet a lot of new people.

Quick tip: Write on the back of your card something like, "It was great meeting you at the NCBA Convention. I'd love to connect via social media. You can find me @cattleandcoffee." This helps the person you spoke with remember where they met you when they come across your card again! Do the same when you receive someone else's card if they haven't done it for you.

2. Pack thank you cards. 

The handwritten note doesn't have to be a lost art. Carrying thank you cards is a great idea because you never know when you'll have an impromptu discussion over coffee or run into someone who made a big difference in your life.

Quick tip: Know who will be attending convention! You can find the trade show participants and registration list prior to the meeting dates, allowing you to prepare for who you'd like to meet with.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile. 

Preferably you do this often, but it's absolutely essential to have your page updated and accurate before attending a conference. When you're networking and seeking potential career opportunities or new clients, recruiters and connections will check out your profile after meeting you - and if they don't do it first, you should connect with them a few days after the event ends.

4. Prepare your social media accounts. 

Honestly, I could dedicate an entire blog post for this subject. It's impossible to meet everyone at an event with thousands of attendees, yet with social media, it becomes less overwhelming to find the individuals you'd really love to connect with. Start searching the hashtag, affiliated accounts and topics surrounding the event and you'll find someone worth speaking to. It's also a good idea to make sure your profiles are recent, accurate and authentic.

Quick tip: Do a little research to see what the event's official hashtag is, and then add it to your bio while you're there! Twitter users particularly will search the hashtag, so if you have it directly in your bio, your account will show up in the results more easily. It also helps you stand out among the stream of tweets.

5. Review the schedule of events. 

Arriving at the convention can be a lot at once - you'll be meeting new people, seeing familiar faces and trying to settle into hotel rooms. Mapping out the meetings and your topics of interest beforehand can make the convention experience much less stressful.

6. There's an app for that. 

More and more conferences have begun creating apps for their event, and the NCBA Convention app has never been better. You can complete many of the previously mentioned preparation steps directly on the app, like looking up trade show booths, attendee lists and the schedule of events. Search for CIC-NCBA in your app store!

7. Is your resumé ready?

This step is more for individuals on the job hunt, but it's always a good idea to keep your resumé in tip-top shape all the time. After you've given someone your business card, thanked them and added them to your network on LinkedIn, they may be interested in seeing your experience. Don't make yourself worry whether or not you have a recent copy ready to be emailed to a potential employer.

NCBA Convention and other conferences prove time and time again to be prime locations for networking. If you are a member of the beef industry and haven't made plans for CattleCon19, it isn't too late. Register today using my code SHERADAN and I'll see you in New Orleans!


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