WORKPLACE / NOV. 17, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Make the Most of Conferences

Trade shows and conferences present excellent opportunities for exposing your organization, as well as promoting your products and services. Therefore, whenever you attend such events, be sure to derive maximum benefits from them. Here are some tips for making the most out of conferences:

1. Pre-conference preparation

You might be going to a conference as a mere attendee or to exhibit your company’s products and services. In some cases, you might even be one of the speakers. No matter your role, it is very important to prepare prior to the event.

Establish your objectives

Decide what you want to accomplish by attending the conference. Do you want to:

  • Attract new sales leads?
  • Boost customer loyalty?
  • Launch a new product?
  • Develop your brand?
  • Create relationships with distributors and suppliers?

When your goal is clear, you can then focus your efforts in the right direction.

Have a budget

Before going for a conference, decide how much you are willing to spend. Your expenditure could go towards marketing materials such as:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • A display booth
  • Giveaways (pens, T-shirts, mugs among others)
  • Press kits (photos, CDs, press releases etc.)

Publicize your involvement

Inform your business associates and customers that you will be attending the trade show or conference. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Place an announcement on your website or blog
  • Send an email to your subscribers
  • Post the details on your social media pages
  • Mention the event in your marketing materials

Master your business and products

Before going for a conference, make sure you understand your business and products thoroughly. Come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that you can use to make yourself stand out from the competition. Don’t forget to research new developments in your industry. Finally, think in advance of questions which people might ask you

2. During the conference

When attending the conference, you need to leave a good impression. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:

Be professional

  • Dress appropriately
  • Be polite to the people visiting your booth
  • Keep the booth clean and tidy
  • Be at your best behavior always. Whether you are eating, talking to people or simply walking around the exhibition, remember that you are representing your company

Network

  • Avoid the temptation of spending time with people you know. Instead, make an effort to meet as many new people as possible
  • Remember to have your business cards with you at all times. After speaking to people, give them your card
  • Attend numerous activities, especially those that are relevant to your goal or organization
  • Ask many questions. Learn as much as possible about other people’s products and organizations. This will give you ideas that you can implement in your own organization

When the conference is over, your work is not done. Take time to evaluate your performance. Did you achieve your objectives? Think of what could be done better at future conferences. You should also follow up any promising leads, and explore any strategic business opportunities that emerged at the conference.

 

Image: Flickr, kris krüg

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