5 Tips to Networking Success at ICMA’s New Virtual Trade Show

Although handshakes may be off the table for now, you can still get connected to new business opportunities and strategic partnerships virtually.


The International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA) will deliver a historic event, ICMA Connect: A Global Virtual Forum & Trade Show on Nov. 4-5, 2020, which will feature a dynamic lineup of interactive experiences, including educational sessions, networking opportunities, roundtable discussions and more.

Although it can be hard to imagine replicating the interaction and conversation that happens at an in-person event, it is possible! With ICMA Connect, you will have access to networking and education, as well as a virtual connection to industry leaders and presenters from the safety of your home or office.

Here’s five tips for networking success at ICMA Connect:

Tip #1: Use social media to publicize your attendance pre- and post-event
Let your peers and prospects know you’ll be attending. Use #AllAboutTheCard on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to post about your participation. (By the way, registration is now open for ICMA Connect!)

Tip #2: Plan networking opportunities intentionally

Networking virtually requires more planning since it won’t happen organically like it does at in-person events. It’s important to identify your goals ahead of time and prepare like you would for a face-to-face networking event. Do you want to visit specific booths, find a supplier for a project or meet 10 new people? Think about your objectives ahead of time.

During the event, be sure to take notes. Afterall, you are spending valuable time and money to attend. Make sure you are in a comfortable setting that is free from distractions. Take a look at your LinkedIn profile and make sure it is up to date with your correct title and company information.

Tip #3: Take advantage of group chats
Even though a virtual trade show takes place online, you still have the opportunity to interact with attendees. At ICMA Connect, there will be several ways to join in the conversation—post questions, take part in polls and chat live with attendees and exhibitors—to lay the groundwork for more in-depth conversation with ICMA members. Use those forums to join discussions, share your expertise or ask questions. Showcase your industry knowledge by offering insightful comments in the chat, serving as an active participant in roundtable discussions or by participating in Q&A by asking thoughtful questions.

Tip #4: Be an active participant
At ICMA Connect, the “main stage” will feature speakers and panelists, who will discuss trends, technology, sustainability in the card industry, biometric smart cards and COVID-19’s impact on the card industry. Virtual events offer plenty of networking opportunities if you put in the effort! It might be tempting to passively listen in on presentations while multitasking at home, but by not fully immersing yourself in the virtual experience, you are missing out on valuable networking opportunities.

Use private messaging tools throughout the event to interact with participants and ask them what they think about a presentation. Or enter an exhibitor’s “virtual booth,” which will offer a live video chat. Drop in without an appointment or schedule a time for a private meeting.

Tip #5: Follow up with new connections
Stay in front of your new contacts and touch base with them within three days after the event. Search social media platforms for #AllAboutTheCard to join conversations and cross-reference new connections on LinkedIn to add them to your network.

At ICMA Connect, it’s easy to find someone you know in the “crowd.” With new virtual networking tools, you don’t have to worry about forgetting someone’s name and you can easily talk with someone you don’t know.

Sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities for ICMA Connect are now available. For more information and to register, visit icma.com.

Want More Industry Insider Insights or a Glimpse into Global Card Trends?
For three decades, ICMA has represented the interests of the card manufacturing industry—which includes manufacturers, personalizers, issuers and suppliers—as its leading global association.

ICMA offers regular educational opportunities, including the web-based Card Industry Training & Education program, which provides information on key areas of the industry, as well as tutorials and webinars from industry experts. ICMA also provides reports on the card market and on personalization and fulfillment statistics to keep members informed of emerging trends and changing forecasts.

Throughout the year, ICMA members have the opportunity to share insights and knowledge by giving presentations at ICMA events, webcasts and tutorials. The organization hosts three in-person conferences each year. The main event is the annual Card Manufacturing & Personalization EXPO and the other two conferences are CardTREX North America and CardTREX Europe.

New this year is ICMA’s inaugural virtual forum and trade show—ICMA Connect, which will take place Nov. 4-5, 2020. ICMA is excited to bring many of the benefits of the live events…virtually with a dynamic, interactive experience.

Learn more about the benefits of an ICMA membership.

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