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    Unique Conference Relationships You Can Grow

    As people who are in and exposed to the business world throughout the majority of our days each year, we are accustomed to meetings, and more especially, to conferences. These are targeted meetings purposed to provide a platform for discussion, with the hope to gain solutions and/or enhance clarity. Held at differing venues such as on an exhibition stand at an exhibition show, or at a meeting room in a hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, conferences offer interaction with all kinds of interesting human beings.

    We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships, and currently, we are watching as the web moves away from connecting documents, and instead focuses on connecting people. Similarly, savvy conference organizers are taking some cues from the web transformation. They are changing their conference from being about connecting with content or technology, to focusing on connecting people.

    Some people like to call the relationships, connections and communities that people form at conferences connexity. We all crave connexity, and according to Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl, relationships are based on the structure of the network. Have a look at the following definitions and think about the various people you meet at a conference, you will typically encounter all of these types of relationships at your next annual meeting.

    1. Associates
    These are the people you meet at a conference for the very first time, before, after, or during the networking session, where you realise that you share only one or two common activities, such as sports or a hobby. The next time you meet again, you comfortably have the option to either continue conversation with them or engage in one with someone different. Relationships such as these are usually picked up between employees in competing companies.

    2. Useful Contacts
    These types of relationships are formed during conversation, where one or both parties share advice and business contacts that could prove useful to either person in the near future. For example, when at an industry conference, when people who perform the same duties at their respective companies meet and engage in conversation, they often find themselves sharing advice and exchanging recommendations to assist one another in their personal successes. It is important that the relationship proves equally beneficial.

    3. Favour Friends
    Favour friends are usually the direct result of a healthy associate relationship. People who assist each other in a functional way without getting involved in or even discussing feelings, mostly in business. You often find these relationships among Clients and suppliers. After having a pleasant experience working together, they form a mutually beneficial relationship.

    4. Confidants
    In business, each individual is confronted with stresses that vary in intensity, and it is this reason that motivates people to develop confidants. Because conferences usually spark debate, people form opinions, and when expressed, people who share the same opinion take note of the speakers’ face and plan to continue the conversation after the debate, usually during the networking session. Conversations that start off in this manner usually remain based on just that…sharing grievances.

    One of the best ways to describe these unique relationships is to consider them as strong or weak ties.

    Strong Ties:
    Strong ties are the people you’re closest to; in business these are your confidants. They’re reliant, and normally helpful when needed.

    Weak Ties:
    Weak ties are people you don’t know very well, and usually with no intent to know them better. We often describe our weak ties as acquaintances.

    Now that you’re aware of the different types of business relationships, and in which of the two categories to file them under, you’ll be able to make better choices when choosing which to invest your valuable time and energy in, and which to just acquiesce with.

    Information sourced from the following sources:
    - Rethinking Friendships: Hidden Solidarities Today – written by Liz Spencer & Ray Pahl
    - “Eight Unique Types Of Conference Relationships You Can Grow” – written by Jeff Hurt.




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