Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Make the Most of Your Conference

Are you thinking about attending an upcoming conference or trade show related to your industry?

 Stop thinking and book your flight. Attending these types of events can be a big boost to your business. You know how important networking is to your success, right? Then why not go to the place where you can do more networking in 48 hours than the rest of the year? Before locking down your travel plans, you should take in these tips on how to make the most of every conference you attend.

Leave room for face to face meetings.

If the conference is happening in your hometown then you're golden. However, if you have to fly to a destination then leave yourself some room before and after the conference for potential meetings. It would be horrible if you make a good connection, start working on a deal and then have to run off the catch a plane. Best-case scenario: fill up your free day with meetings. Worst-case scenario: you get a day off to explore a new town. Actually, that's not so bad!

Set your target meet and greets.

The majority of well-established conferences will post a list of attendees in advance of the dates. This is a terrific marketing ploy but if there is no list, there will still be plenty of buzz. Head over to Twitter or LinkedIn to see who else is talking about going to the conference. You should get a sense of the roster of attendees. As you gather up the names, make a target list of who you'd like to "bump into." If you're following them on social media, let them know you'll be at the same conference. It's all about being proactive.

Lend a helping hand.

Don't just wait for someone to make a networking connection for you. Get out there and help others with their connection. Think back to your days as a young lad trading baseball cards. When you made a decent trade you were rewarded down the road. Same thing with business contacts. Being stingy with who you know won't get you very far.

Map out your day.

You should have a list of the conference day's events well in advance of your arrival. Figure out which of the talks is top of your "must-see" list. Plug those into your schedule then put together the "second-string" events. Make sure you also schedule in the cocktail parties and other networking opportunities. Don't just show up and wander the halls looking for a crowded room.

Make friends with the presenters.

No matter who is speaking at the conference, they are going to want feedback. Right after their talk they might be swarmed or whisked away. It's a safe bet that they are on Twitter. Send them a Tweet telling how much you enjoyed their talk. If the door is open, ask a follow up question. Before you know it you've added an all-star to your network!