Attending a trade show or conference is one thing, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that it’s a junket. You’re surrounded by hundreds, possibly thousands, of like-minded contemporaries, all of whom are network connections just waiting for you to reach out. We’ve put together a list of essential steps you can take to connect the dots and make your next conference a sterling success:
Boast the Brand
It goes without saying that you need to do all you can to get your company’s brand out there and visible. It’s crucial to let potential clients know that you’re a player in the market that you’re the person to speak to. You don’t need to have a flashing neon sign. It can be as simple as creating some branded promotional products such as pens or flash drives that you can distribute to new connections. Alternatively, wear a shirt with your company logo to create some brand awareness. Pour your morning coffee into a company cup, while stashing everyone else’s corporate swag into a tote bag with your brand’s slogan down the side.
Get Up Front
Have you noticed that no one sits in the front row until all the other spots are taken? Be seen, and be eager. Even if you’re not a natural extrovert, you can act as one for the duration of the conference. It takes a confident, self-assured person to sit in the front row when all other seats are available. When you’re there, you’re the first person the speaker sees, and you’re visible to everyone behind you for the whole session.
Bonus tip: Don’t sit with your colleagues or friends. You may feel awkward sitting beside a stranger at first, but it’s a simple, yet highly effective way to approach a new face and begin a conversation.
Skip a Session
It’s important to use the time between sessions as opportunities to mingle and establish connections with other attendees, which means you’ll be missing out on the chance to use that time for bathroom and food breaks. Plan ahead, and drop one or two of the least appealing session from your schedule. Not only will this give you the time for a quick break, but it offers the chance for a more relaxed, in-depth discussions with new leads.
Be Social (on Social Media)
Before you arrive, check if there’s an app for the conference. Have it downloaded and ready to go, so you’re up to date and ahead of the learning curve. If the meeting is promoting a #hashtag to use on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, make sure you’re both using it liberally in your own content and when interacting with other attendees’. You know that nice feeling you get when someone “likes” your post? Share that feeling around!
Eventually, you’re going to hit a wall and feel exhausted from all the work. That’s a great sign, as this is meant to be hard work. A conference is never intended to be a vacation, and if you’re treating it like a leisurely trip just to watch some guest speakers share their knowledge, you’re missing a golden opportunity to grow your sales or your business. No matter how over it you feel, you can’t retreat until the very end. The moment you disappear, your potential contacts will forget you exist. Stay within sight and front of mind!
If you put all five of these steps together, you’re bound to make the most of the conference and every opportunity that comes with it. Remember, you can rest when you get home!