Stand out before the conference or business event
Preparation is the key to maximising the benefits of attending a professional event. It all starts with defining the ultimate goal or reason for attending. Goals vary from person to person, but often it will include generating new leads, meeting potential partners, getting referrals, or finding connections for a new role or job.
Linked to goal setting, it’s also essential to decide who you would like to meet. The list of speakers circulates beforehand, so take some time to review it. At trade shows, the organiser’s website will often have an exhibitor directory that you can use for the same purpose. You can also follow the event’s hashtag in social media and see who’s talking about it online or planning to attend. Once you’ve made a list, start interacting before the event and if possible, arrange a meeting beforehand. Don’t leave it to chance – we all know how difficult it can be to find someone at a large event.
Business cards are a must, but in some ways, they’re underutilised, since they can be made even more personal by adding a handwritten message. This requires time, but it will make your card and name stand out among hundreds of other attendees who simply hand out their business cards. The message should be friendly and business-like and related to your goal or reason for attending. It can even be a shortened written version of your elevator pitch.
Stand our during the conference or business event
Standing up in front of large groups of strangers can be daunting. But there are ways of doing so in a way that’s helpful to others, so they will be more inclined to remember you.
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For example, have a look at the sessions you want to attend and for each session think about a question relevant to your industry that you would like to see answered. If the question isn’t answered during the session, use Q&A time to ask the speaker, or use your questions as conversation starters during breaks.
If a speaker made a point that was particularly helpful or you can relate it to your professional experience, you can use Q&A time to show appreciation. Share a personal story that reinforces the speaker’s point. Remember that storytelling is memorable and powerful and isn’t exclusive to speakers.
If the event is in your home town or in a city you know well, you could organise a meetup after the day’s sessions are over. Get creative and stand out, show attendees hidden gems in the city, or arrange informal meetings at a restaurant near the convention centre, offering insights into the industry in your location. This creates a natural and relaxed framework that can become a solid base for business connections.
Appearances matter, and in the world of casual, a polished and professional outfit can help you stand out from the crowd of delegates. Dressing well according to your own personal brand won’t only make an impact on others, but can also boost your self-confidence.
Don’t forget to make the most of social media: ultimately, these platforms are meant for socialising. Live-tweeting is effective in encouraging interaction, and replies to your tweets can generate exciting conversations that you can later follow up in person.
And once the event is over, always follow up on new connections. Go through the business cards you have collected and send a personalised email to everyone you have met.
Standing out at conferences and trade shows doesn’t have to be intimidating, but it requires some planning before and after the event. With a little bit of preparation and attitude, success is in your hands.