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Ready, Set, Connect! A Process for Stress-free APA Fall Forum Networking

Networking is exciting for some people. But for many who have chosen careers in the behind-the-scenes procedures or ‘numbers’ side of the workforce, such as payroll professionals, networking means extra deodorant and deep breaths. With the 2016 APA Fall Forum right around the corner, we’re hearing some chatter about networking uncertainties. But don’t worry—we’ve got some tips. Because at SumTotal, we understand how to give people in every role in your organization the skills they need to succeed.


People who are drawn to the payroll and workforce management occupations are often very organized, down-to-earth and methodical, with strong work ethics. They tend to value well-defined tasks, order, and privacy. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator might define these process-enthusiasts as the ISFJ personality type; which stands for Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging. Jumping into in social activities disrupts the much-valued routine, often causing some uneasiness and stress.

To eliminate some of that stress, try tackling networking as a process. This component of the conference is an opportunity to make connections that may prove just as valuable as the knowledge you gain from attending sessions. So what do you do when you’re not in a workshop or general session? Instead of leaving the situation or distancing yourself, which may be the most natural response, prioritize and break down “tasks” just as you would at work.

Review attendee and sponsor lists. If attendee lists are available, review it ahead of time and note who you want to meet. Sponsor lists are always available—so make sure to highlight which would be most valuable to investigate. Having an idea of who will be at the event will help you prepare and can be the difference between small talk and a sincere conversation.

Visit exhibitor booths. Representatives at exhibitor booths are invested in making connections. You will have the opportunity to chat, learn about new companies and products, and potentially meet others interested in the same solutions or facing similar business challenges. Even if you’re not actively looking for a new solution, understanding emerging technologies may help you reevaluate your own business needs—and processes—to prepare for future updates.

Ask for an introduction. Greet the person who seems to know everyone and ask them to introduce you to the person/people you wish to meet. This is a great way to be invited into a conversation. Not only will you gain an introduction, but someone else will initiate the conversation and that person may already have a relationship with the person you’re trying to meet (this is another valuable reason to review attendee lists ahead of time).

Set goals and limits. Don’t force yourself to network the entire time. Tell yourself that you’ll hang out for hour, shake five hands, or meet someone in particular before taking a break.

Attending conferences is as much about networking as it is about learning from sessions and workshops. Business and relationship management go hand-in-hand—so prepare. With a solid plan and clear task list in place, follow the networking process that works best for you.

Stop by our booth at the APA Fall Forum to learn more about our Payroll and Workforce Management solutions and share your favorite networking tips below to continue the conversation.

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