The Huge Opportunity You Are Missing At Conferences

A lot of people get frustrated with conferences: either because they are sick of people asking what the firm gets out of it or the work just doesn’t come pouring in after the event.

This is because there is a huge opportunity that everyone seems to miss.

The big opportunity at a conference is not schmoozing with clients. The big opportunity is not getting people to like you. It’s not “building relationships.”

Sure, it’s nice when people like you. It’s nice to have a drink or dinner with someone. Those things are nice, but you’ll be hard pressed to come back to the office with any real opportunities in your hand.

This is where the huge opportunity you’re passing by comes into play. Think about this. Which would you rather have: 50 people who like you or 100 people who owe you a favor?

The big opportunity is to give…to give to clients and teaming partners.

It takes longer to get someone to really like you than to give that same person something they perceive to be valuable. So, it’s easier to focus on giving than focus on getting.

In addition, science shows us that people will be more likely to comply with your requests if they feel they owe you a favor. And this likelihood does not increase or decrease whether they like you or not.

Key Takeaway: When at conferences, don’t focus on getting people to like you. Instead, figure out what you can give them that’s significant, unexpected, and of perceived value.


  1. Bernie Siben says

    Absolutely true, Matt. Great networking is always about what you can do for the people you meet. I sometimes feel that giving a client or teaming partner something they will value so they will feel they owe you something in return sounds a bit manipulative, but that’s the way of the world. And it’s a simple quid pro quo without a “down side.” Networking at a conference is truly an occasion where it is better to give than to receive.

    Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful and safe Holiday Season.

    • Bernie,

      Thank you for commenting. That’s a good point. There is no downside to helping everyone everyday.

      I hope you and everyone else have a happy holiday. 🙂

  2. Todd Bonner says

    Really appreciate the post, Matt. I will be heading to a big conference in February in New York (unrelated to AEC) and have now got my mind spinning with what I can give away at that conference, to all of the people that I want to build a working relationship with, in order to grease the wheels and make something significant happen.

    Manipulative? Nah. It’s just a matter of choosing a particular approach to business development and then sitting back to watch good things happen. Who could fault us for that?

    Good brain juice from a good brain.

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