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  • What I Bring to Networking Events and Conferences

    What you need to get the most out of your next one-day event.

    On the morning of an event – or often, the night before – I’ll prepare a bag of goodies to get maximum benefit.

    Here’s what must be in my pack or it will be sorely missed:

    Name badge

    Most events, especially paid events, will give out badges with your name on it but bringing my own assures that it will have the right information, with the right spelling and that it will work with whatever I’m wearing.

    My favorite is actually a simple plastic badge that I received at an event a few years ago. It has a shoelace that you comfortably wear around your neck, and the plastic card has a white sticker with my name and Twitter handle. The only improvement is to put a similar sticker on the back of the plastic so that you don’t have to constantly check whether the right side is facing front.

    Business cards

    Always bring more than you think you’ll need, and store them in a small case that will keep them fresh like the day they were printed. When I open the case to hand out a card, I replace it with the card I received, tucked beneath the rest of my other cards.

    Pen

    Take notes, scribble the event name on a business card given out or received or just to help out someone who needs one, which is a great conversation starter.

    Smartphone

    Aside from the obvious reasons, I use my phone to take notes which are automatically uploaded to my Google Drive account, and to participate in the conference tweet stream (using #hashtags) if there is one.

    Extra smartphone battery and/or charger

    What good is your smartphone if the battery is (almost) dead? Make it a non-issue.

    Dictaphone

    My secret weapon. I use it mainly to record speakers, especially if I’m one of them but not only.

    What happens all too often at informal talks is that I end up being the only person who recorded the event at all, and everyone – speaker(s) and audience – really appreciate it when I then post the audio for download after the event.

    Only use a digital dictaphone so you can easily backup the recordings to your computer. Mine is basically a glorified, powered USB memory stick with high-end audio recording functionality.

    Lapel microphone

    At events where I’m speaking, the lapel microphone gives me the best audio quality when plugged into my dictaphone.

    At events where I’m networking, I may hide the lapel microphone inside my collar to record my conversations FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY so that I can more easily take notes later. Or, I may sometimes just use the lapel microphone as a small wired microphone that I’ll hold up to someone I’m talking to.

    Breath mints or gum

    Most events have some kind of food served whether there’s a buffet or just cookies and coffee. Whatever the menu, regardless of whether you have halitosis or not, an occasional mint or minty gum will make conversation more pleasant for everyone.

    Medication

    As a chronic asthma and allergy sufferer, I need to come prepared or I may suffer a lot! Anyone traveling to events may be prone to headaches so some sort of aspirin or anti-inflammatory is handy too.

    I have a collapsible plastic cup with a cover that – if initially dry – can double as a pillbox.

    Tissues

    And as a chronic allergy sufferer, I’m guaranteed to need a tissue at some point.

    Wallet

    An obvious one, but I’d be hard-pressed to get to an event without it.

    Ask the readers

    Is there anything NOT on my list that you must bring to your events?

    Author:

    Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.

    Losevsky Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com

    avatar

    Jacob Share is the founder and SVP of Share Select Media, a company focused on empowering quality bloggers and blogs such as Group Writing Projects, The Original Home of Group Writing Projects. His JobMob blog has attracted over a million page views last year alone. He grew up between Canada, France and Israel where he had his first Internet experience in 1994 and was hooked. Since then he’s enjoyed playing a part in growing the Web as a manager-developer and project manager at Amazon.com and other e-commerce companies before starting up his own venture.

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