Conferences and in person networking events are back. Time to polish your skills so you may expand your circle of contacts, whether at an industry event or a bar association meeting.

Use these 25 tips to help you build better connections at any event you attend. Advance planning will improve your execution for some tactics, while other tips address being alert to possibilities and the proverbial follow-up. Give these 25 best practices a whirl and see which ones work best for you.


  1. If you belong to the host organization, peruse the Membership Directory for people with a similar practice, aligned business or nearby location. Reach out to them in advance, indicating your shared interests and your wish to meet them in person at the event. When they reply, set an appointment or exchange cell phone numbers.
  2. Bring business cards. Yes, people still collect them. When you receive a business card, you will note on the back what you discussed with the person you met or what you promised to send them. Make sure your business card is a light color and is not laminated on the back, so that others can write on it.
  3. Bring a small branded item, preferably one that showcases your services. Pens are a last resort. Yes, everyone can always use a pen, but there is limited space beyond your contact information and your tag line for you to toot your own horn.
  4. Contact the speakers and say you are eager to hear their presentation. Many times a speaker would like to address a point in more detail, but the time constraints of the session preclude exploring a topic in depth. Accordingly, offer to ask a question that will allow the speaker to discuss the idea more fully.
  5. Rehearse your elevator pitches. Have one for attorneys in the same practice area and one for people who are less familiar with your area of the law.
  6. Stay at the conference hotel to take advantage of informal meetings. Also, you can escape information overload with a retreat to your room.
  7. Activate your Out of Office email and add a day. When you return, you will be busy catching up on what transpired while you were away, plus you will be conducting follow-up activities.


  1. Silence your cellphone (and watch). Don’t be that boor whose device interrupts the proceedings.
  2. At breakfast: Sit with people you know for a fast catch-up. Or, sit with new people. Breakfast is a quick meal; everyone is eager to eat and get into the main event.
  3. Network informally with your seatmates. Everyone is attending for similar reasons: to learn and to connect. As you know in networking, it’s not the first person you meet; it’s someone in that person’s circle.
  4. Take notes during the sessions and plan to implement two ideas.
  5. At lunch: Meet new people. You can talk to the folks from the Chicago office any time.
  6. Keep track of your conversations. Take a photo of a contact’s card and send it to your assistant with a note to email the new contact whatever you promised to share, perhaps a client alert or newsletter. That night, the contact will check their email and notice what you sent. The next morning, they will thank you for the information. (If you don’t have an assistant, consider hiring a virtual assistant for a few hours to handle this task.)
  7. In a break-out room, volunteer to take notes and lead the discussion. When everyone re-convenes, you will stand up and report the group’s thoughts to the entire assembly.
  8. Compare notes with other attendees. Ask what they learned from the speakers and exhibitors.
  9. Snap selfies and take photos of small groups. It’s a perfect reason to follow-up after the event.


  1. Contact the people you met at mealtimes. Remind them of your conversation and cultivate the relationship.
  2. Email the people you met casually. Ask them what they found most valuable about the meeting.
  3. Invite contacts to subscribe to your or your firm’s newsletter or blog, so you may keep in touch. Ask to be subscribed to theirs.
  4. Share your photos via email and on social media.
  5. Post the insights you gleaned from a speaker on social media, tagging them.
  6. Send that post to the panelist.
  7. Connect with the people you met on LinkedIn and any other social media platform where you are most active.
  8. Congratulate the conference organizers and offer feedback, both positive and critical. Suggest a future topic that you might address as a speaker, panelist or moderator.
  9. Mark your calendar for the NEXT follow-up. The people you met are just as busy as yourself, scrambling to catch up on everything that accumulated while they were away, plus reaching out to those they spoke with at the meeting. Set reminders for two weeks hence to move the relationship forward.

    BONUS: Bring your own name tag: NAME and PRACTICE AREA, not your firm’s name.

With these activities under your belt, the next conference or bar association meeting is sure to yield engaging conversations and plant seeds for productive relationships. This list is a summary of the e-book How to Connect at Conferences: 25 Tips, available by email here. The 21-page e-book also includes templates for email correspondence before and after the conference.