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Conferences and Trade Shows the what of it all
So, you have been given approval to attend a conference or trade show. “It’s good for your development”, they say “you need to network and develop relationships” then your manager walks away and leaves you wondering, that’s great but, where do I get information…how do I prepare…what do I need to do?
Where to get information…
Start with a little research to learn which event will provide the most bang for your buck. You will be surprised how much information you can get from a quick google search or a well-placed question. The Internet is a wealth of information so use it to your advantage, but don’t just believe everything you read. Speak to others at your company to get their recommendations and experiences. Seek out those who have attended an event or who have been in the industry a little longer. A great resource is your sales and marketing staff. Include a few key customers to see if they are planning to attend AND if they’re attending, schedule a brief meeting or ask if they’d like to meet you outside the show.
How to prepare…
Pick the right hotel for your stay. It may cost more but probably worth it if they offer transportation or are within walking distance. That’s a great place for networking opportunities too, especially if they offer breakfast or happy hour.
Oftentimes, these conferences are quite massive in size so it can be overwhelming and you just might find yourself feeling like a fish out of water. Before you go, find out who’s presenting, what companies/booths you’re interested in visiting and make a plan to fit YOUR specific role. It’s great to see everything pertaining to your company but be selfish about finding out information around your job function so that the takeaways benefit you, which also ultimately benefit your company.
What to do…
Don’t overschedule yourself, be flexible and leave time for impromptu meetings. Enjoy meeting new people, ask them questions, find out how they can help you or who your shared connections could be. Build your network (that’s why you’re there, remember!) and don’t forget to trade business cards so you can reach out to them after the event, and invite them to be part of your LinkedIn connections. Remember though, be selective with your business cards because each one you hand out will possibly put you on that company’s list to receive marketing blasts, which is okay if your email box is empty and your to do list is short.
Likely the single best piece of advice to offer is to WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! Your Fitbit or whatever wearable technology you have will attest to the number of steps completed will be mammoth so in order to survive, it’s imperative that the shoe must fit, and comfortably so.
Lastly enjoy yourself. This should be a rewarding and positive experience you can share with others when you get back to the office!