Redefining Purpose-Driven Networking at RSA Conference 2024

This time next week, some of us will be landing at San Francisco’s International Airport or running around Moscone Center trying to make it to our next session, but others will be exploring some of the industry’s best networking opportunities that only the RSA Conference can offer. I can already picture what you might be thinking after reading that first line – “Oh, another networking event,” or, “But I don’t see the value in networking.” And you’re not alone – but by the time you’re done reading this, I’m hoping to change that mindset. 

Earlier this month, my colleague Carrie VanBuskirk highlighted all the “possibilities” that organizations can take advantage of at RSAC – including, you guessed it, networking. The reality is, networking is much more than the same four to five “small talk” variations we can muster. It should be purpose-driven – and we often forget, the experience is tailored specifically to our individual needs, goals and long-term strategies. Meaning, for communications and marketing professionals, these events are always intertwined with the immediate objectives of our clients. 

Foundationally, networking is about developing impactful relationships. Whether that means building a relationship with a reporter you’ve always wanted to introduce yourself to, meeting the vendor sales team you’re interested in exploring partnerships with or having introductory conversations as part of an internal recruitment strategy. The purpose of networking is so individualized – but in order to avoid a negative mindset when approaching networking opportunities, you must understand the bigger purpose and evaluate your desired outcome. 

Consider how the opportunities at this year’s conference will help elevate your client and your own growth. Wherever you find yourself, if you’re naturally “avoiding” networking events or relationship building opportunities at RSAC, I challenge you to redefine your purpose. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Identify what’s important.

Go in with a plan. The “Begin with the end in mind” principle applies here – setting your networking intention before entering the event itself allows every interaction and conversation to be purposeful. 

For example, my goal for networking events next week is to familiarize myself with reporters in-person, with the long-term goal of strengthening relationships with media publications that are important to cybersecurity companies. But, perhaps you’re more interested in introducing yourself to prospective new clients, business partners or job candidates. Regardless, knowing these strategic goals before you walk into the room will reframe how you approach the evening.

Balance your priorities with an open mind.

Part of identifying your purpose also comes with learning to accept the unknown. You never know who you’ll meet at these events – and how new relationships can lead to more introductions and more relationships down the road.

Intentionally follow up.

These days, in-person interactions are more difficult to forget in comparison to virtual ones.  Remember the key details of your conversation. As communications professionals, interpersonal communication is critical to our job… and simply our overall existence. Think of networking in a similar light. Take time to reflect on your conversations with new individuals, making connections to your time together as you look ahead to the long-term goals you’ve identified. 

So, now I challenge you to outline what’s important to you as you create your own definition of purposeful networking. At W2 Communications, we host our annual CYBERTACOS networking event each year during RSAC. What once began originally as a small gathering with close industry peers now draws hundreds of attendees each year. It’s an evening full of pressure-free networking over tacos and margaritas. Hosted on the first night of the conference, let this be the perfect space to reframe your approach to networking!

For a more tailored, 1:1 networking experience at RSAC, reach out to us through our mobile coffee service, W2 Caffeinated to schedule a brief 20-minute chat. Take a moment to recharge between meetings and events, while having an introductory conversation with one of our W2 Communications’ team members.  

We wish everyone a successful and meaningful conference experience and look forward to seeing you there.