Tips & Guides — 06 Jul 2018
So, you’re going to a conference/exhibition/professional event (choose what’s applicable). That means that you are going to participate in dozens of sessions led by professionals, meet tons of new people, and take home lots of great swag. Are you excited?
Ok, let’s be honest, noone really likes attending conferences. It always implies that you have to get out of your comfort zone, and who wants that? Sitting at home under a cosy blanket is always much more convenient. But then you think of how much value this event may bring to your company and to you personally, and after some hesitations, you pull off your imaginary blanket, and start getting ready (physically and mentally) to an event. But before you actually do, let’s have a look at the bigger picture:
Everybody is afraid. It doesn’t matter whether you are a first-time-goer or a conference-going expert, meeting thousands of new people is stressful. Remember, that you are not alone with your anxiety, we are all in one and the same uncomfortable boat, so breathe deep and take a step into it.
Everybody is nice. We are all humans, we do not bite (don’t you?), we all came with one and the same aim — discover how both of us may be beneficial to each other. Therefore, be sure: you will be more than welcomed there.
Everybody is relevant. Even if a person seems not valuable for now, you never know how these relations will grow and which fruits they will bear. Never devalue any of your contacts and treat everybody as if they are the very person you wanted to meet all your life.
So, if going to the conferences is not in your TOP favourite activities list, don’t worry, we’ve got your back with our best tips for how to do everything right. From preparing beforehand to having great time while you’re there, here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your next conference.
Going to a conference without any decent preparation makes you pay twice. First, you will let your company’s money go down the drain, plus you will waste your time (and time is money, right?). Take a moment to prepare for the event — review the attendees list on the official website, as well as on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to select the companies you would like to schedule a meeting with. Always contact the organisers to ensure the participants list displayed on the site is full. Download the official app to communicate with the participants, if necessary.
What I usually also do is check the photos from the previous conferences to see how the networking space is organised. If the event area is huge, it will help you find the most convenient room for finding potential business partners and customers. These tips are an open secret pretty much. However, following these simple rules will definitely help you establish strong partnerships instead of just bringing a massive number of random business cards back to the office.
As a frequent conferences’ attendant, I made my own shortlist of habits and tips, that help me make the most out of the events. As the conferences often go hand in hand with flights and travels (which are usually exhausting), having a rest before the event is a must! You have to look good and feel good during the whole day, so good sleep and rich breakfast is what you really need.
Also, do not forget to keep smiling! Love your potentially future clients beforehand — that will make your smile more sincere and much more appealing. And surely, I don’t go to the conference without my secret weapon — red lipstick. Believe me, noone remains indifferent!
Going to arrange meetings during the conference? Never appoint them near the entrance or at the registration desk. With 99% probability there will be tons of people looking for each other. If you or your partner have a booth or a table, arrange a meeting there. In other cases use a noticeable booth of a big technological company for your meetings. There will be less people, and it will be easier to find each other.
One more hint for those whose conference goal is not to raise brand awareness, but to communicate with current and precisely defined new partners — rent an executive suit in the hotel where the conference is held. Put roll-ups near the room, serve coffee and tea. You will save cost on booth and get a comfortable place to hold a meeting in a calm and pleasant atmosphere.
Not only is the conference a good place for growing your clients’ number, it is also your chance to get some media coverage. As a rule, all the professional events are teeming with journalists and editors from professional outlets. They are hunting for the latest news, valuable insights and newest experts. And maybe this time they are looking for exactly you! Thus, prepare your elevator pitch and try to turn it into a real conversation and even negotiation about your future partnership. Have a prepared press-kit to hand in to media representatives, and include there a number of topics you are an expert in.
Little hint: pay attention to the attendees’ badges, as they are usually coloured according to the professional niche. Once you find at least one journalist, you will easily identify the rest by the same colour of badges.
A perfect way to be noticed at any conference is to become a speaker. Provided your speech is of real value and provokes future discussions, you will surely get the attention you are looking for. As a speaker I participated in many shows and in many cities, but Indian conferences will always stay in my heart. I`ve never seen such passionate audience, ready to listen carefully and ask the questions that matter to them. They always keep the dialogue live. I remember a very funny story, when I was a speaker at one of the Indian shows. I ran out of time and the organizers were giving me signals to complete the discussion, but the attendees didn’t let me go off the stage until they finished with all their questions. And even after that a lot of people were making lines to continue «off-stage» conversation.
If you are planning to meet your current customers, make a list of the newest product features that you’ve been up to lately and think of the most frequently asked questions to prepare the answers in a plain and accessible language. Besides, draft the pros of using your product and be prepared to handle the objections — it will be really helpful during the event. Note, that you have to be ready to show your product functionality right there, at the conference, thus make sure you didn’t miss anything out. Bring the necessary devices and set up yourself with everything you may need.
And always stay in touch with your team. Sometimes at the conference we need to quickly replace each other at the meetings, coordinate the shared responsibilities or request some help of information from the rest of the team that maybe not even at the conference. Thus we always have some team management software at hand, so that we can quickly solve any issues. If you are traveling abroad, check the Internet availability, provided you need the access to it.
Never miss the opportunity to take advantage of the afterparties or cocktail hours. This is when people let a little more loose, and the conversation gets less stiff. With booze and relaxed atmosphere, you will definitely get to meet tons of people and grow your network immensely. So, instead of thinking ahead too much about what talking to this or that person will get you, be in the moment and truly enjoy the process of meeting new people. Anyway, you never know who clicks at the moment and get a great deal out of it.
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