UX conferences are an invaluable tool for anyone in the service industry as a whole, but especially for software and digital service providers. However, like any conference, there are ways to handle networking at these events, and there’s a strategy to be had for how to optimize it.
Simple people skills and a gift for schmoozing go a long way, but to get the most out of UX conferences, let’s look at some simple pro tips for optimizing the experience. Time is money, and conferences do take up time.
First, know your demographic. This goes beyond just knowing to what demographic your UX is catering to, but also knowing what other, otherwise unrelated services this demographic likely consumes.
Knowing your demographic beyond your own relationship will allow you to seek out contacts with other, non-competitive UX providers who share this demographic. This gives you a chance to non-hostilely exchange UX strategies between companies, and possibly even work out cooperative ventures in the future to optimize your service to this shared base demographic.
At UX conferences, knowing your industry, and seeking others in the industry that do not share your demographic is also a good way to spot useful contacts. Networking is all about useful rapport and exchange of information. Seeking representatives of competition would be disastrous, but seeking out non-competitive representatives that don’t share your demographic are another thing altogether.
Think outside the box. The conference events themselves are useful places to make contacts and network, but everyone has to go somewhere at the end of the day. Picking a hotel for the conference that is likely to host many others attending will ensure that you may encounter useful contacts outside the event itself. Restaurants, bars and other social gathering places nearby are likely to be patronized by the attendees of the UX conferences as well, and the casual, relaxed atmosphere of such locations is conducive to small talk and informal exchange of contacts.
Have you recently solved a severe UX conundrum within your company? Seek out others who are facing the same complications, and if they are not direct competition, offer humble advice on solving the problem you just overcame. This is an excellent ice breaker, and a great way to form alliances with representatives and companies that the previous strategies may not reach out to otherwise.
Similarly, if facing a problem you have not yet solved, seek others who face this problem as well. While commiserating and exchanging notes on the problem, you may find that your companies have much to gain from forming permanent contacts and exchange. You never know, if you put your heads together, you may both have the pieces needed to solve the puzzle at hand, too. Affirmative thinking is very important when it comes to making UX contacts.
Of course, casual mingling and interaction, which is prevalent at all business events, is still a must at these conferences for optimal networking. But, when it comes to UX conferences, strategy like what is demonstrated above, not just social skill, goes very far indeed.