Thousands of conferences happen each year in the United States, but there is something special about AFROTECH.
With thousands of technologists, professionals, and entrepreneurs descending in one place across several days, the conference presents a unique opportunity for attendees to return to their respective spaces better than they left them.
One of the many ways betterment shows up is through the power of relationships. Because there is so much diversity in who shows up to AFROTECH, leaving a conference of that magnitude without intentionally connecting would be a huge missed opportunity.
Thankfully, many people have figured out that tapping into community is one of the many cheat codes to success. Cultivating relationships with those you met at AFROTECH could be the catalyst to changing your future.
Two-time AFROTECH attendee and co-founder of the mobile mechanic app Kritkarr, Joshua Regis, praises AFROTECH for its curated culture, primed to facilitate partnerships.
“One of my main goals of the conference is to meet new people. That was extremely important,” Regis shared. “I made it one of my biggest goals to talk to everyone and engage with new people, with the potential to begin a great relationship.”
Although the conference offers several opportunities for people to connect, the busyness and communal environment of the Expo Hall are always prime places for individuals to have meaningful interactions at AFROTECH. 2023’s event hosted over 150 partners represented at the Expo Hall and the Blavity Media Lounge.
Throughout each day it was open, there were programs, giveaways, and prime moments for people to plug in with key stakeholders and plant seeds that could grow into viable connections.
Regis took full advantage of those opportunities in 2022 and 2023 by linking with people who have become long-term connections or have the potential to be more than a passing interaction.
“There were previous relationships that I’m still connected with either through LinkedIn or in the content creator space,” Regis stated. “AFROTECH felt like homecoming. One of my connections, Courtnee Futch, had the speed dating event, so it was great to see that from someone I now consider a friend.”
But it’s more than just making connections. For Regis, it’s about following up and making the most of each potential relationship. This specific approach has worked for him at each AFROTECH he has attended.
“My advice is to plan for what you want from AFROTECH. It mitigates expectations,” Regis said. “Be very open to speaking to everyone you meet. Try to be as social as possible because every conversation or relationship can lead to great things, especially in tech. I would also suggest wearing an outfit that sets you apart or that’s uniquely ‘you’ because it can be a conversation starter or bring the conversation to you.”
Although Regis’ experience at AFROTECH is valuable, the team wants to make sure there are options for every attendee to maximize their experience and return to the conference, ready to take full advantage of every opportunity.
Solidify Your Community
As mentioned, Regis noted the power of connecting with people at the conference. An excellent way to stay connected is to build out a process or document for follow-up. Outline who you met, what industry they are a part of, what part of the world they are based in, and the different contact methods.
Leverage The Technology
The AfroTech Connect App was a valuable tool during the conference, and its value did not end when it concluded.
Tap into the chat feature and attendee list to connect with people further now that everyone has settled back into their respective spaces.
Reach Out To Build Up
Meeting new people is always a vibe and essential to advancing the work you want to do. But what good is meeting new people with a follow-up plan? Be sure to set specific time aside to extend the conversations you started during the conference. What is it that you want to ask? What possible collaborative opportunities did you identify?
Taking an intentional approach takes connection beyond another contact in your phone or social media list and scales it to a space of meaningful connection and relationship.
Take It To The Next Level
If some of your connections, whether individual or organizational, are local, set up a coffee or lunch meeting. In-person connections can be an excellent way to advance the relationships you are building. It also presents the opportunity to get to know the person better.
If in-person connections aren’t feasible, virtual connections are a great option. Zoom or any other connecting platform can keep touch points alive.
Everyone’s approach to networking may be nuanced, but the importance of it cannot be denied. While AFROTECH 23 has ended, the opportunity to connect is not over.
AFROTECH 24 is already in planning mode, and early bird tickets can be accessed here. Be sure to tap in to elevate your future with a broadened network in mind.