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April 17, 2018

Don’t just “show up” at a conference. Be prepared!

I’m attending a conference in 2 months. Here’s what I’m doing now to be prepared.

I’ll be attending Greenbook’s IIeX 2018 NA Conference in Atlanta this June. It’s one of my favorite industry events. Like many, I’m attending to expand my knowledge, but also to network – and hopefully initiate relationships with some potential clients. And even though it’s two months away, I’m preparing now to have a successful event. Here’s how…

  1. I’ve ordered a fresh stack of business cards. Nothing is more embarrassing – or unhelpful – than running out of them mid-event.
  2. I’m spending some time updating our website and making sure my LinkedIn profile is up-to-snuff. Why? Because after I meet with a potential client there, if they have some interest in us, the first thing they’ll do is go to our website; the second will be to check out my LinkedIn profile. And if either site is in shoddy condition, any chance of us doing business together could end right there.
  3. As I send emails to clients and prospects over the next couple of months, I’ll be adding a note at the bottom that reads, “By the way, any chance you’ll be at IIeX in Atlanta this June?” If they respond with a ‘yes,’ then I’ll follow-up to try to schedule a time to meet at the conference. If you wait until you get to the event and hope to connect with someone to find a block of time, things get so hectic, there’s a good chance it won’t happen. So, schedule your meetings now!
  4. As many of you know, we send out a monthly enewsletter. In our upcoming May and June issues, I’ll be mentioning my attendance at IIeX and letting readers know that I’d welcome the chance to meet with them there. Just email me.
  5. I looked through the conference agenda at the list of speakers, as well as the list of exhibiting/sponsoring companies, to see who I knew. Then I started reaching out to them to see who would be interested in scheduling a quick coffee meeting at the event. Again, it’s far easier to block off a little time now then to hope to run into someone and try to squeeze in a meeting there.
  6. Also, as I was scanning through the exhibitor/sponsor list, I was making a note of the companies I didn’t So, between now and the event, I can do a little research on them and be bettered prepared should I have the chance to chat with them while I’m there.

Bottom line: From a business development perspective, the worst thing you can do at a conference is to just “show up” and hope it goes well. Whether you’re an exhibitor, sponsor or just there to network and learn (like me), take some time in the weeks leading up to the event to get ready and be prepared. It’s like any other successful venture… the more effort you put in upfront, the better the results you’ll have.

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