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I recently attended a networking course which shared many common sense approaches to the topic. The course discussed quality networking (as opposed to quantity). It outlined not just building up your network (adding more business cards or LinkedIn connections) but rather making meaningful connections. It spoke of those who would be there to help if needed and those whom you would wish to assist too.

I’d like to share some important take-aways regarding networking especially as they apply to conferences. Community members might want to keep them in mind when attending SAP Inside Track events, SAP TechEd 2012 and other conferences.

Pre-conference tasks - make 2 lists of your strengths and goals:

  • Strengths: What do you bring to the table? Know your strengths! These are as varied as the people in attendance. They range from professional accomplishments to character traits such as great listener, awesome strategist, perfect executioner etc. Be sure to be aware of your own capabilities. Everyone is special, in what ways are you?
  • Goals: Create goals! In order to network you need to know what your ‘end game is’. Again there could be multiple requirements pertaining to each aspect of your life. It could be personal, such as gaining great new running partners to help you reach a fitness goal or it could be business related such a finding the perfect partner to collaborate with on a new project. The goals should be:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Ambitious
    • Achievable
    • Set before the conference!

Actions to keep in mind while attending the conference:

  • Curiosity – When meeting new people in an event, (and it may sound elementary) but be sure to ask questions. This may come naturally to some while it might be harder for others, for example those who are a bit shy. Some say it may feel intrusive or not polite to ask questions of another. However if you show a natural curiosity in the person and ask more about the topics they are freely sharing that interest you, (as long as you’re respectful and considerate) then you’ll learn more and interact better.
  • Amplify (strengthen) the person you’re speaking with – People naturally like and gravitate towards positive people who help build others up. Be encouraging towards those you interact with.
  • Be ready to help – give! Often people think of networking in terms of what they can get however true networking (relationship building) begins with giving. Try to think how you can help the person you’re speaking to; providing a good idea, making a helpful connection etc.

*Our own marilyn.prattis one of the best ‘givers’ that I know and therefore it comes as no surprise that she’s a marvelous networker. She is always listening deeply and thinking how she can assist those around her. Watch her in action during TechEd, it’s a treat!


  • Additional tips before a conference:
    • Be sure you do your homework before attending – who do you want to meet? A few examples:
      • Interesting people from the SCN spaces you frequent. Are they providing a session? Be sure to visit the TechEd space and check out the educational sessions!
      • The new ‘Blog It Forward’ Challenge is a great way to get to know our community members a bit better.
      • SAP Mentors are always easy to spot with their Jerseys, perhaps begin interacting in the Mentor Space first.
    • Bring enough business cards – while it’s not the quantity, you do want to be able to connect after the event J Be sure to also take a business card of every person you speak with.
    • Speak with those around you (during lectures, at lunch etc.) – there are many great ways to meet people. While sitting at DemoJam, in line for a coffee…be open to every opportunity to meet those around you.
    • Approach speakers after their session & provide feedback – If you found a session interesting and helpful, don’t be shy to approach the speaker and develop the conversation.
    • Try to quickly find a way to help the person you’re speaking with
    • If there are more than two people be sure to include everyone in the conversation
    • Look into people’s eyes so they know that you’re really ‘with’ them
    • Speak less, listen more

I hope these tips were helpful. I will be in SAP TechEd Las Vegas this year and would love it if you came by the Community Clubhouse (where I’m likely to be) and introduce yourself! Feel free to connect before (or for those not attending) via twitter, @GKS.

Wishing everyone a great conference and successful networking!