Conferences can be exciting events, but also slightly overwhelming for some. If you are a classic over thinker, you might have the upcoming presentations and conversations constantly looming over your head.
That being said, conferences don’t have to be a scary place but it’s important to prepare yourself in advance. Thinking about where to allocate your time is integral in order to keep you at ease and make the most out of forthcoming sessions and meetings.
Conferences are an exceptional venue to meet with peers, network with prospective clients and connect with your customers. After all, if you have a particular set of business goals that you want to achieve, networking would be your social capital. As we spend most of our time nowadays connecting digitally through social media, emails and other resources, face-to-face interactions have come to be more precious.
Here we share some of our expert tried and true tactics to survive a conference. Even if you consider yourself to be reserved at such events, we are hopeful that the tips can turn you into a social butterfly for the day!
Tips and Tricks
So you have a conference coming up. It may be your very first one or you’re probably a seminar wiz. In any case, we recommend that you take a breather and prep yourself before attending. While it’s not necessarily military statecraft, its imperative that you set yourself up with a game plan for the day. Here are several things you can do to get yourself ready:
- Distribute your time wisely: Become familiar with who is attending and think about who you would like to meet with. Gauge which educational sessions are beneficial to fulfill a content goal. However, it may be worth skipping the key note speech to grab a cup of coffee with a potential client.
- Connect prior to the event: This is where Social Media comes in handy and can be used to your advantage. You can advertise your plans of stopping by a specific convention through Linkedin or Twitter, “tag” other companies so they are made aware and use “hashtags” to further spread your message online. If there is someone you want to meet that has made it on your “priority wish list”, make an effort to get in touch with them prior to the conference. You can either arrange to sit together during a presentation or let them know that you’ll be joining a session they’re presenting. Either way, it’s encouraged to give them a heads up instead of cramming a 15-minute conversation on the spot.
- Listen more, talk less: While conferences are events that require you to be social, you can gain a lot more by paying attention to people’s remarks and concerns. This can accomplish two things: it can assist you in forming new business ideas and/or allow you to improve your current ones. Conversely, resist the urge to be a wallflower and remember to ask thoughtful questions.
- Orient yourself: If it is a larger venue, either grab a map or give yourself enough time to become familiar with the space, as you don’t want to be the one who shows up late to a meeting.
- Bring the necessary materials: Exhibitions usually feature an area where sponsors and vendors can endorse their products in a set space. If people feel the need to voice their comments and concerns to you or a sales opportunity presented itself to you, be prepared to showcase how your product can bring their business to the next level. Don’t assume you will close a deal with anyone you make a sales pitch to, as prospects are attending the conference for the same reason you are: to learn.
- Keep yourself on track: If you meet someone you’d like to establish a business relationship with, be sure to write any salient information exchanged on the back of a business card. Ensure it’s something that would jog your memory and not just “Sandra CEO from British Columbia”. It’s also essential that you are quick to respond. Try to follow up with prospects within the week to demonstrate your commitment.
If what you’re after is an unparalleled occasion to build new connections and strengthen currents ones, a conference is something you don’t want to miss. Not to mention it’s a convenient opportunity to gauge your competition in the market. We have an upcoming conference ourselves at the Insurance Business Awards Gala in Toronto on November 30th that we’re really looking forward to. This is yet another great chance for us to meet with prospects and new people.
Remember to keep our guidelines in mind next time you attend a convention. Don’t forget to keep your business cards on hand!
Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Client Solutions