For many professionals, the summer season means increased participation in conferences and conventions. Before you fill up on business cards, to make sure that you get a great return on your investment, follow these thirteen guidelines.
1) Give yourself a goal
Too often, professionals are not strategic in their conference and convention participations. Then, once they get back to the office, they are surprised at the lack of results. Without a strategy, it’s impossible to measure the success of an activity. Give yourself a mission: to learn one thing, meet three new contacts, or connect with a client. Decide and state that objective to your supervisor and your team. This will motivate you to take action and will guide you when you report back.
2) Prepare and target your efforts
Active participation includes doing your homework: consult LinkedIn to view speakers’ profiles, visit the event’s website, get in touch with the organizers, suggest your participation as a speaker, learn about the successes of the sponsors with whom you consider building an alliance. This research will give you insight to introduce yourself, converse and even propose a service offering.
3) Kill two birds with one stone
Take this opportunity to invite one of your clients who may also be interested in the theme or topics. If a potential customer or vendor is in the same geographic area as the activity, take advantage of your trip to do lunch or have coffee.
4) Be open to the unexpected
Sign up for workshops, cocktails and other activities related to your goal. Smartly plan your participation to maximize your presence without being hurried or sleep deprived. If things do not go as planned or if time does not allow you to do what you want, be open to the unexpected. Those moments are often the basis of synchronicities and often make great stories to tell.
5) Be punctual
Especially if you intend to meet the invited speakers. They will be there early and will be accessible while waiting for their turn. When traveling internationally, give yourself one or two days before the activity starts to counter jet lag. Avoid the stress of return by also giving yourself time to take stock and resume your pace. Be realistic. Schedule activities according to your biorhythm.
6) Donate your time and talents
Volunteering is the best way to show your interest, contribute to change and get closer to influencers. Base your voluntarism on your skills and goals. Offer your services to: greet people, introduce speakers, lead a roundtable, write an article, sponsor a cocktail party, give literature at a booth or mentor recruits. Get involved. The fallout is often exponential.
7) Maintain your dress code
This is not the time to relax your outfit or experiment with a new look. To project confidence and credibility, you must look like what you do on a daily basis. Of course, if the dress code is casual, do not put a suit. Base your clothing choices on the context, the activities and the location. You never know who you will meet or who will be the passengers by your side on the train or the plane. Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to maintain impeccable posture during long distance walks.
8) Take every opportunity to introduce yourself and build relationships
In line at the registration desk, at the buffet or at a kiosk, introduce yourself! Remember that the people you meet are like you; they want to meet and connect with other attendees. As long as you do not shake hands and exchange information, you will not know whom can help you or how you can help them achieve their goals. Introduce your colleagues and your customers too. This technique is contagious. Your new acquaintances will then introduce you to their circle of influence. Offer your business card.
9) Put the techno aside and be in the moment
Turn off your phone. If you are waiting for a call or an email, put it in vibration mode. You are there to build relationships face-to-face and not face-to-screen. Be present. Listen. Share. If you need to check your emails or take a call, take time out and go to a private area. Avoid going in and out during presentations. It is disturbing for the presenters and distracting for the participants. Handwrite your notes. You will be more focused. Studies show that handwritten notes increase retention.
10) Respect the instructions and speak positively
Be a courteous, polite, gracious and grateful participant to the organizers, the participants and the staff. Respect proximity and space. Allow everyone to see and sit comfortably. Do not spread yourself and your stuff. Be a fair player Celebrate modestly and applaud enthusiastically.
11) Do what you said you would do
Honor your words within 48 hours of your return to work. If you have promised to virtually introduce someone to a member of your network, introduce them. If you mentioned forwarding an article, send it. If you have promised an invitation to your golf tournament, do it. You will stand out for your integrity.
12) Sort your new contacts and connect virtually
Add your new connections to your contacts folder. Write notes and reminders to further develop your relationships. LinkedIn is the ideal platform to connect. When sending an invitation, be sure to add a personalized note that refers to your initial meeting at the convention or conference.
13) Say thank you
All occasions are good to say thank you: to the host, the speakers, the organizer or the hotel staff. Thank you, is the ideal excuse to send an email and continue the conversation.
Whether you’re taking part in a learning activity, building your business or exchanging best practices, be strategic and stay open to all the opportunities that come your way!
Would you like to increase your confidence to better interact during conferences and conventions? Contact me to schedule your private coaching.