Sometimes it’s tempting to think that work is busy enough without taking time out to attend events. We get it. It’s frustrating to be away from the office only to find your time was wasted. So how can you be sure attending, sponsoring or exhibiting at an event is worth it?
Embrace the experience
If you’re exhibiting at an event, or even just attending, don’t be “that person” who hides away from everyone and focuses only on their phone or laptop. We’ve seen people pay huge amounts to exhibit at an event and then sit at the very back of their stand and do nothing but answer emails. Delegates don’t dare interrupt the intense stare they have going with the screen and they’ve got no chance of making new contacts.
The same thing applies if you’re a delegate at an event; be present and engage with the exhibitors and attendees and you’ll get more out of the experience. Put your email out of office on and engage with those around you.
Don’t push your agenda
The way to win at all conversations in life is to remember that it’s not all about you. Whether you’re a delegate, exhibitor or sponsor, there’s a time and place to talk about yourself or your business, and a time and place to listen.
Industry events are a great way to glean current information from your potential customers, so don’t miss the chance to learn something by failing to listen. Once you’ve heard what your potential customers have to say you’ll be in a much better position to address how you can help them.
Remember to follow up
People always seem more interested at an event than they are when they return to the office. They’ve probably met a lot of interesting people over the course of the event and you’ve all got a bunch of new contact details.
Make sure these end up in your CRM and you follow up appropriately to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity in the future. If you said you’d send a sample or some more information, or have your sales team make contact, be sure this happens. This final step is very important.
Choose your events wisely
Not all events are created equal. I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve found yourself at an event half filled with enthusiasts or retirees who are really just there for the free pens. When it comes to attendees at industry events, it’s quality over quantity that you should be paying attention to.
If you’re exhibiting and trying to get in front of decision-makers, then look for events that these people go to. It’s usually the case that higher-priced events, or those run by respectable businesses, attract a higher-quality crowd. Look for events run by industry associations, or others with a deep connection to the industry, rather than professional event companies that have more of a sausage factory approach.
You also want to take a look at the quality of the event program, as this will also help attract a more engaged audience. If it’s genuinely interesting to you, chances are it will also appeal to your target customers, and vice versa. If you’re attending as a delegate, a better program is more valuable to you to learn from, but will also improve the quality of network opportunities you will encounter.
We’re not ready to write-off events just yet, but it is worth taking the time to make sure the events you are involved with are the best in the industry.