I’ve written a few posts recently about networking at conferences and how to overcome awkwardness in those situations.
I got a comment from Wouter Dieters asking my opinion about making connections before a conference to break the ice and planning meetings with those people in advance. That can be a good tactic. It ensures that you are going to get the chance to talk to people and sets up that expectation with people you want to connect with.
Leading up to a conference, I’ll get a lot of emails saying, “Hey, let’s set up a meeting.” Sometimes that can cross over and become a little too salesy for me. That works for some people, and if that’s effective for you, then great.
My overall theme in conferences is to build relationships and connections rather than try to sell yourself. If you want to stick to that goal, you can still set up those meetings in advance to break the ice. Just keep them informal instead of pitch meetings.
Plan to grab coffee or meet up for a few minutes.
I think there's a lot of value in establishing real relationships when you’re networking. That can lead to more successful opportunities in the long run. Focus on getting to know people and build those true connections.