Every business has the opportunity to take advantage of industry conventions, trade shows or conferences. These are events where everyone related to an industry comes together to build connections and network. If your business is not taking advantage of these opportunities, you are definitely missing out.
Yes, attending a convention can be expensive, especially if you consider the travel and hotel expense. However, when done right, this is money well spent because, the return on investment can be phenomenal. Conventions can easily lead to new sales and customers, fresh leads, professional contacts and free media exposure for your business.
Here are some simple tips and tricks to get the most out of every business convention.
Network with the Right People
Whenever you go to a convention you should first have a general idea of who will be there. You should make a list of the most important people for you to network with. When you are at the convention, locate these people and do your best to make a connection with them.
Spending time with people you already know may be fun, but it is the new connections that will truly benefit your business over the long term.
Keep an Open Mind to New ideas
Conventions are great places to find new ideas and technology. Even if it seems ridiculous to many, that just means that there is more opportunity for you to get in on the ground floor. For example, in the past people have taken for granted the ability to connect the internet to everyday objects.
However, now the Internet of Things is a very real concept, making businesses a lot of money. The lesson is clear. You need to pay attention to new ideas that can be leveraged in the future.
Participate in Breakout Sessions, Seminars, and Speeches
There is usually a schedule of events, as you should plan to attend the ones that are most relevant to you and your business. Make sure that you are strategic about this and find ones that are very specific. Overly generic content is usually a waste of time. You don’t want to sit through a topic that you are already an expert on.
Don’t Miss Opportunities to Network
Just because you didn’t list someone as a person you want to meet, does not mean they cannot be an important connection. You should make it a point to strike up conversations, with as many people as possible. Bounce ideas off to people and see what they think.
Find out if they would be willing to exchange contacts. Don’t engage in pointless small talk, but have meaningful conversations with people about your business and industry.
Hand Out Company Gifts
People love to receive free things at conventions. Make sure that you come with more than just a boring business card. This is an opportunity for you to put a branded gift into the hands of the public.
With proper customization, your corporate gifts can really stand out and promote your business. People will keep the gift and remember you and your business long after they leave the convention.
Be Prepared with Questions
Conventions are great places to learn. Come prepared with questions you would like answered. If the questions you have are not answered naturally through the convention, then pursue the answers yourself. Make sure you get all of the benefit you can from the convention experience.
Contribute to the Convention When Possible
Remember those seminars and speeches mentioned earlier? Hold one yourself if you can. This is a great way to position yourself as an expert and build sales, leads and connections.
Everyone wants to connect with the expert. That is exactly what you are when you present at a convention.
Keep your Schedule Flexible
Even though you should always plan what you want to do, who you want to meet, you should also allow yourself some flexibility. When you are on a tight and rigid schedule, you miss out on different opportunities that may present themselves.
If something intriguing comes along, make sure you have the flexibility to pursue it. You are at the convention to get the most benefit, not to mindlessly stick to a prearranged schedule.
Embrace the Unexpected
Without fail, every convention has something not widely publicized that presents a real opportunity. Many times, these are even booths that are ridiculed for taking a chance with a different approach.
They may be placed in the corner or way in the back. Many will have no value to you, but that one diamond in the rough can make a huge difference. Make it a point to find at least one hidden gem like this at every convention you attend.
Leverage What You Learned
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that a convention is over once they get home. You need to take advantage of the knowledge you obtained, the people that you met and the opportunities that presented themselves.
This is the true value of a convention. If you don’t follow up with leads and opportunities, there is a good chance you only wasted your time and money.
If you follow these simple tips and tricks you will always have a positive experience at every business convention you attend.
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