At every conference you attend, you should have two objectives: to learn more about your business and to network. Each of these is just as important as the other, so should not be neglected. This is why the people who get the most out of their conferences tend to work out a way of combining the two.

Group discussions are one of the best ways to achieve this. Getting together with relevant industry figures and discussing a session or seminar you have just attended is a great way to get to know people while boosting your own knowledge.

You don't even have to do this at the conference. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to get in touch with colleagues and industry contacts before you ever meet them in person. If it is a particularly big conference you might find that you never get a chance to see your contacts, so social media can be extremely useful at times.

So, is there a knack to using social media appropriately? Here are our top tips for getting in touch with other delegates online:

Do your research

One of the many benefits of the internet is that you can look up a wide range of information. You might be able to find a list of people attending the conference; if so, you can look them up and work out what their area (or areas) of expertise is. This will allow you to get in contact with the people who will be the most use to you.

You can do this the other way around if there is no published guest list. Look for prominent industry figures that would probably be interested in attending the conference, then get in touch to see if you are correct. Even if the people you contact are not going to the event, you can still keep in touch if they are useful.

Do not spam anyone!

You need to think carefully about how you will get in touch with these people. You will need to send them a quick introductory message, be it a tweet or an email. However, it is very important that you do not cut corners at this stage! You can't just copy and paste the same message and send it to everyone.

This is called 'spamming', and often social media sites look out for it. It could lead you being banned from posting! Also, if delegates notice you are posting the same thing to everyone they will assume you are not a human, but a computer program posting automatically generated messages. As such, they will not get in touch.

Keep in touch

Once you have attended the conference, met up with your contacts and had your discussions, you will part ways. However, this should not be the last time you contact the professionals you have got in touch with!

Keep talking to them on social media to forge strong connections, which will be useful for your career and your business.