By Chelsea Duggan


You’ve just dropped serious cash on attending a trade show or networking event. There are some great keynotes, breakout sessions, and a chance to ask your questions to your biggest crush. So how do you prepare? First, do your homework – make a breakdown of what activities you want to take part in and who is running them. Taking a moment to plan where you need to be and when will make it much easier to make time for that necessary third cup of coffee and even more necessary bathroom break.

Second, do some research on the presenters. With a simple Google search you can find out more about who they are. You’re looking for three key points that you might be able to relate to them on. Look for the people who are doing what you want to do. They might be a successful author and you can check out their most recent book. You might also make note of current passion projects, general location like NYC, and be sure to read a few recent blog posts so you know what they’re currently interested in. The necessity behind this information is so that you have a basic understanding of where someone is coming from and so that you can have several points to connect on. For example, when you walk up to someone and introduce yourself at the conference you can begin talking about how you enjoyed his or her blog post on stalking versus networking.

Third, after you’ve compiled your data, consider three questions that you would ask each person if you had the opportunity. Expect that you will only be able to ask one question. I run a shifting list of questions so that if I’m able to get an answer from one person, than I shift the list of questions so that I’m not asking the next person the same exact question. This way I can gather the greatest amount of information in the shortest amount of time. Plus, at a busy conference it can be impossible to speak to everyone on your list but it may be possible to find all the information you’re after.

Fourth and final, print out your list so that you have it in front of you at all times. This is crucial for remembering to stay on task, taking advantage of all breaks for getting your networking done and not forgetting whom you are talking to in a sea of new friendly faces.

Networking at a conference can seem overwhelming especially if you’re going it solo. Through doing your homework and stealthily going after your goal of information gathering you can walk away feeling like a superwoman of success.

Chelsea Duggan:: An entrepreneur, parent and advocate for early childhood development through creative education, Chelsea Duggan is the Founder and Director of Milestar Babies. This innovative online resource enables busy parents to have an influential impact on newborn children, up to three years in age. Chelsea’s background in education – a passion she shares with her two children, so they themselves can enjoy a lifelong interest in learning – is at the center of Milestar Babies. That commitment to excellence starts with shared moments and teacher-designed lessons, which parents can further customize, so children can discover, synthesize and pursue their own discoveries. Chelsea believes that every child is an amazing individual, who deserves to learn at his or her own pace. This kid-tested, parent-approved philosophy is Chelsea’s distinctive concept, complemented by the convenience of the Internet and her dynamic site. A graduate of Northwestern and a member of the Chicago Women Entrepreneurs Network, Chelsea welcomes the opportunity to interact with parents and children throughout the nation and the world.