Conferences are hard work, for both organisers and attendees. For organisers, there’s months of administration and coordination that needs to happen behind the scenes. For an attendee, plans have to made for people to get there, with minimal disruption to normal workflow. Unfortunately, despite the best laid plans, some conferences just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. But what if you had a tool that could make your conference both valuable and fun, in a way all conferences promise, but few deliver?
What if all it takes to turn another run-of-the-mill conference into a truly career-making networking opportunity is a free app, available for download now on your app store? By surfacing things about fellow attendees like who’s going to the conference, what their particular skills are, and who they can introduce you to, Kalido can make your real world networking easier, faster, less awkward, and much more effective.
Here’s how having a good conference app, like Kalido, can really help you:
1) See who’s attending
Before you RSVP, wouldn’t you like to know which movers and shakers will be turning up? After all, you’re not just going for the panelists and speakers, you’re going for the opportunity to meet and mingle with other key players in your industry.
You should join the network for your conference on Kalido to see who else is attending and find out more about them. Kalido networks can be created by anyone, for any legal purpose. Your conference organiser will probably create a conference-wide network, open to all participants. Once you get there, you may want to create or join a network for your panel, or just a small group of like-minded people.
Networks provide a range of benefits:
- Network members can see each other’s profile including current skills and interests. This means you have relevant information about someone, to easily start conversations. You’ll also be able to determine the people you need to be speaking to about your next project.
- Network members can see each other’s common contacts, which creates an instant rapport. Common contacts can also give introductions or referrals.
- Network administrators can broadcast messages to the entire network, to keep everyone up to date and in the loop.
- Network members will be informed when other members are nearby, so no opportunities for interaction are lost, or left to chance.
With a Kalido network, you can start compiling a list of useful contacts, and make contact, before you’re even at the conference to arrange meetups.
2) Communicate directly with speakers
One of the major pitfalls of conferences is the lack of opportunity for audience members to chat to the speakers. Sure, you’re supposed to accost them at the buffet table during intermission, but inevitably they’ll be surrounded by 5 other people demanding their attention. Once you’ve all gotten over the pleasantries and introductions, your time with them will be up, and you’ve gotten nothing substantial out of the interaction. Most conference attendees resort to exchanging contact details with interesting speakers, and making plans to catch up after the conference has ended. What a hassle! Especially as there are plenty of opportunities during the conference to chat, if only you could surface them.
By adding each other as Kalido Contacts, you can chat with or call a speaker for free from the app. That means you don’t have to wait in line for your 3 minutes with them at lunchtime. Instead, you could invite them for a drink at the end of the day when all official activities have ended. Or if you see on their profile that they’re an avid runner, you could meet up for a pre-breakfast run. Knowing something about the speakers beyond the official write-up makes it easier for you to interact with them on a more personal level.
3) Know about unofficial events
At every conference, there are the official events, and the unofficial get-togethers. And more often than not, it’s at the latter that the really useful connections are made. While the official sundowners may be a stuffy affair in the Grand Ballroom, a good-sized group may be gathering on the pool deck instead. As part of the smaller Kalido network, you’ll be notified of this. Instead of shallow chit-chat with a bunch of people whose name you’ll forget as soon as your back is turned, you could find yourself having a truly in-depth and enjoyable conversation with some new friends.
And in the event you do forget someone’s name, you can quickly look them up again on Kalido, while they’re getting another drink at the bar.
4) Showcase yourself without bragging
Although the whole point of an industry conference is to find more professional opportunities, there’s something unseemly about broadcasting your own skills and accomplishments. Inevitably, you’ll have to say something about your background, but you want to do this without under- or over-selling yourself.
Your Kalido profile is a great spokesperson for you. Much more comprehensive than a CV, you can add your educational and work history, publications, portfolio links, and a short bio. It can capture all the salient points of your career and repertoire of skills. Additionally, you can also add your interests and hobbies. You can give a snapshot of yourself as a holistic person, beyond a job title. Other Kalido users can also see whom you know in common, and what networks you share with them. Having this information about you encourages other people to seek you out, and start a conversation.
5) Keep track of people after the conference
The truth is, many of us are terrible at keeping track of people. You may have bumped into the same person at consecutive conferences, but you can’t ever remember their name. And now it’s become too awkward to ask. Or you may remember meeting a brilliant physicist years ago, but now you don’t know how to reach them again to arrange a talk at your alumni association. With Kalido, you can keep all your relevant and associated contacts in one place, to refer to whenever you need to.
All you have to do is check the network for the conference, and you’ll see everyone who attended, with their current profile picture, skills, and location. So, instead of relying on memory, or an increasingly unwieldy collection of business cards you can’t match with an actual person, you’ll know exactly who’s who.
Conferences can be either extremely useful, or a huge waste of time and resources. Inevitably you’ll be taking time off work. You might also be spending a bundle on travel and accommodation. So, you better be making good connections, and finding new opportunities. Instead of leaving all of that to chance at your next conference, be sure to use Kalido, and turn conference smalltalk into lifelong relationships.