Top 5 tips for success attending live events / conferences

Over the last 14 years, I have attended close to 70 in-person marketing conferences. These events have been all around the world, and had a work hard–play hard mentality. Meaning I would be working and socialising for close to 18 hours a day for 3-4 straight days. Add onto that travel time and I would often come home “broken”. 

The preparation time and follow up from the shows can take weeks and leave you feeling overwhelmed. I’ve known people to cram up to 100 meetings into a 3 day period and my thought first goes to their voice, then their feet from walking from one meeting to another but quite frankly it isn’t the physical element which worries me – it’s the mental side. How can you effectively follow up with, and achieve results from all 100 meetings. If you can, you are one remarkable man / woman. This is weeks and weeks of work added to your already busy work schedule.

Here are my 5 top tips on how you can make the most of conferences:

  1. Don’t accept every single meeting which is requested of you. Don’t be afraid to say no. I found the best way to judge if you are going to get value out of the meeting is to ask for an agenda from who requested the meeting. If they can’t give you a single thing which is interesting to you, ask to follow up after the show instead. Reserve your face to face time for your most important clients
  2. Decide who are your top 10 most important clients and try to schedule meetings with them. Pick 5 potential big clients and try to schedule those as well
  3. Do your meeting prep! Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve from each and every meeting you have. Be prepared – the more you know about your client, the easier the meeting will be and the more you will achieve
  4. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; don’t be afraid to approach people both on and on the exhibition booths. Everyone is there for the same reason – to make connections and grow business. You never know who you might meet who could be your next big client or maybe a future business partner!
  5. Dress for success! Your appearance is the first thing people notice and unfortunately first impressions count. 

I had a friend ask me to introduce him to potential clients at a conference once. He turned up in a pair of trainers and a hoodie and wanted me to introduce him to companies who were worth millions. I told him he needed to come dressed appropriately if he wanted to get business from these million pound clients. Needless to say he walked away from the show with zero new clients. You need to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. 

Events and conferences can be fun and rewarding as long as you do your homework ahead of time. Remember the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

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