An industry event can be a great way for company executives and associates to meet others in their industry as well as potential clients. While it is important to convey what your company is about at the event, it is equally important to take notes of hot topics in the industry, meet as many people as you can and above all, be yourself. If a business card was the only thing required to make an impression, there would be no need to book a flight! Though an industry event is business, it is also an invaluable way to meet face-to-face without the pressures of signing on the dotted line … at least right away. With that being said, what is the savviest professional’s industry event etiquette?
Do your research.
It may sound simple, but it is the most necessary. Research the best events that fit your needs, and budget to attend. Tips: Look on the event’s website for hotel recommendations, and don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your hotel and flight.
Pack everything except the kitchen sink.
Make a list of everything you need from the office—electronic tablets, laptops, business cards, presentation materials, etc. Also, try to obtain as much information as you can about the event. For instance, are there workshops during the day? Is there a cocktail hour in the evening? Will formal wear be needed in addition to business attire? Will some days be more casual, when jeans and sneakers are optimal? If you cannot confirm the event calendar, pack for every situation.
The value in attending an event is the networking possibilities. Not only can networking result in the exchange of services at a later time, it can also be the exchange of information itself, which is equally valuable. If you have potential clients at the event, listen to their opinions about the industry. Is there something your company could be doing better to entice and please potential and current clients?
Don’t be sales-pitchy.
This is a place to get to know industry professionals, and for them to get to know more about you and your company. When it comes to first impressions, being yourself and being personable can far outweigh a sales pitch.
Talk to everyone.
Even if the person standing next to you is not directly related to the services your company offers, strike up a conversation. Word-of-mouth is the best gift to a business, and you never know who the person you’re talking to may talk to next.
Use a journal or electronic device to take notes as often as possible throughout the event. Write down the names of people you meet, the name of their company, contact information if you didn’t receive their business card and what you discussed with them.
Speaking of Business Cards …
Collect as many business cards as possible, and make sure your own business card is up to par. Is it printed on quality paper? Does it accurately portray who you are and what your company is about? Does it have your up-to-date contact information?
Prepare for your presentation.
If you are going to speak at an event, prepare in advance and create a slide presentation with visuals. Are you going to bring your own equipment? Does the event have equipment for you to use? If so, reserve it and test it prior to your presentation. Practice your presentation prior to actually speaking. Perhaps get feedback from someone else in your company. A good presentation should have interesting, valuable facts and visuals that do not repeat what you say but enhance your words and engage the audience. The objective of a presentation is to leave the audience with a good impression about your company and the services you can provide to potential and even current clients.
Photographs are a great way to remember new people you meet, and a great visual for your social networking sites.
What goes without saying … for most.
Keep party cocktails to a minimum. Remember, though the event may feel like a social hour at times, it is still business.
Publicize the events you attend.
Industry events are a great way for companies to keep their names in the press. Post information on social media sites about events you’ve attended or are about to attend. Write a press release about the visit, especially if company executives are attending or if your company is doing a presentation.
After the event, email or call everyone you met. Tell them it was great to see them and elaborate on a topic you had discussed. This is cultivating a relationship. Even if it doesn’t result in a new client at that very moment, it could later down the road. When that person does need the services your company offers, he or she will hopefully think of your company and give you a call.