The Internet has completely revolutionized the world of marketing. It has opened several new opportunities for marketers and at the same time has also increased the competition significantly. However, trade shows and conferences are still very relevant when it comes to marketing. Every year millions of delegates attend several conferences and trade shows across the nation and the number is continuously increasing. In fact, conferences and trade shows comprise of one of the major non-gaming income generators in Las Vegas.
Trade shows and conferences provide an excellent opportunity to meet and make new business connections, learn about what your competitors are doing and find out how you can improve your business strategies to meet the current demands and succeed. However, when you attend a conference or a trade show, the sheer magnitude of the event can bring an overwhelming number of people together and you may find it difficult to choose which event to attend, whose booths to visit and where you can meet the right people. As a result, you may not be able to make the most of the networking opportunities that these events offer.
This brief guide has been designed to help you approach these mega events in an orderly manner and derive maximum benefits out of attending, as well as participating in a trade show or conference.
Laying the groundwork and pre-event preparations
To make the most out of a trade show or a conference, you must begin the preparations long before you leave for the event. In the case of a trade show, this task should ideally begin months in advance. It is never a good idea to arrive at a trade show or a conference without proper preparation. However, thanks to technology, this preparation need not be as difficult as it used to be during the years preceding the advent of the internet.
The general approach is, to begin with, the speakers. Assessing, researching and even connecting with trade show and conference speakers is definitely the first of the things you should be doing before attending the event. You can even connect with other attendees before the conference begins. Most of these conferences have their own unique websites, complete with social media integration that not only makes it easier to learn more about the speakers and attendees, but also to connect with them instantly. You can choose beforehand who you are going to connect with and find out where you can meet them, at what time they will be free to interact. You can then attend the conference armed with this list to make sure that your visit is successful.
Using your time at the event
Industry events are not all about networking. They are opportunities for you to learn about the latest developments in the industry and familiarize with innovative technology. As a result, it is not always a very good idea to keep your schedule fully occupied even before you arrive at the venue. It is very important to leave sufficient space in your schedule to make sure that you have some time on your hands to look around. The most important thing is to make sure that you have at least three take away points from every event or presentation that you attend and also to make sure that you connect with at least one person next to you during the event.
Another essential task you need to do when at the conference is to make sure that you go around the floor of the conference or the trade show at least once for the duration of the conference. This will help you capture any detail that you may have missed during your planning. This could either prove to be a waste of time or an excellent opportunity to meet someone new and connect with them. Since you will already be informed of what companies are attending, you can ask very specific questions to those in the booths and chances are that your interactions will actually yield some benefits.
After the conference or trade show
While conferences provide an excellent opportunity to network with peers and also learn new things about the industry, you should not stop here. You must remember that every person in a trade show or a conference would end up meeting and networking with an overwhelming number of people and at the end of the event they would be left behind with a huge stack of business cards. You should also remember that these cards would not help you in any way unless you have built a stable relationship with your new contact.
So, it is quite obvious that a follow up is very crucial to your business and it will help build and nurture a relationship with your new contact. It is a good idea to contact a person immediately after the event as the conversation would still be fresh in their mind. So, you should re-establish contact at the earliest even if you do not intend to do business with them immediately. This will not only make sure that your circle grows but, you would have also initiated a relationship. Follow up through email or phone calls, and if the other person seems equally eager to establish a relationship, you could even schedule a meeting and discuss possible business opportunities.