Ep. 58 | How to Network at Your Next Conference

This is a picture of Aaron Orendorff for the Rethink Marketing Podcast where he presents a foolproof way to network at conferences.

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In this week’s Rethink Marketing episode, we chat with Aaron Orendorff about how he has mastered the art of how to network at conferences. Aaron is the editor in chief of Shopify Plus and the founder of iconiContent.

In our conversation, we talk about creating a conference networking plan, about how to approach and follow up with keynoters, speakers and others you meet at conferences; and how to balance networking and attending sessions at an event.

I don’t know about you, but I hate networking. I always feel awkward. I have a trouble hearing folks in noisy spaces. You get the drift.

Aaron has had the same fears.

“The first conference I ever went to was Copy Bloggers 2014 Authority Conference in Colorado. And I chickened out the first night. I just bailed on going to the opening party. Stayed in my hotel room. And I had a friend who said, ‘Man, you got to get out of your head. What’s stressing you out is you’re like, am I going to sit next to the right person, am I going to make myself look silly, am I going to open with the right words, what are they going to think of me.’ He’s like, ‘forget all that. The next time you talk to somebody just say to yourself, how can I help this person, how can I serve them.’

And maybe it sounds silly and cliché and trite, but it absolutely like revolutionized the rest of my experience at that conference and every conference I’ve been to since. How can I be of service and how can I help? And if it’s easier to have that opener with a question, that’s a real sneaky trick from myself. But everybody’s just as freaked out as you for the most part. They really are. They’re just as sweaty and uncomfortable and scared.”

Listen to the episode to get the tips Aaron offers for mastering your next conference so that they continue to pay dividends long after as measured by work you create and friends you make.

Enjoy the conversation, and we hope you can get one or two takeaways that you can bring to your business.

Shownotes & Links:


  1. Can you tell us more about yourself and iconiContent?
  2. You and your collaborator, Nadya Khoja, put together a mini-campaign around the topic of best advice for networking at at a conference, which we link to in the show notes. Can you tell me the background behind it?
  3. Your efforts paid off with great connections, social shares, links and other brand awareness. But I am curious how you experienced/engaged in conferences prior to your post?
  4. From talking to all those keynoters, speakers, and other attendees; can you group all those 101 pieces of advice into X buckets?
  5. Why is having a plan important for your conference experience?
  6. Should an attendee be focusing on attending sessions or meeting folks and building connections? Why?  
  7. How does an attendee balance their personal conference experience with the interested of an employer that is paying the costs to attend?
  8. Should attendees engaging in networking carry a resume or some other piece of content? What are your thoughts?
  9. What is your go-to introduction to a speaker or another attendee?
  10. What are your thoughts about getting contact info from attendees and speakers for post-event follow ups?
  11. What are your thoughts on folks that have a prop or certain, flashy look during the conference?
  12. What are your thoughts on how attendees engage/experience the exhibition hall booths and vendors?
  13. How can folks learn more about you?