A Crash Course in Convention Networking

Industry-specific conferences are a hallmark in business networking. However, attendees and vendors both can be inundated with the number of individuals wanting to connect, and the chaos of the convention floor can prove a sensory overload for the experienced and first-timers alike. A crash-course in Event Networking 101 will maximize your potential for expanded company visibility and name-recognition.

The Convention Begins Before Takeoff
There are few things more uncomfortable than being cramped in an airline seat, yearning for an extra inch of legroom, breathing recycled air for an inordinate amount of time. There’s no doubt that a loose-fitting outfit and an early-morning mimosa (or two) takes away some of the irritations of travel, but if you’re heading to the airport in shorts and a tee-shirt with a head full of bubbly, you’re already starting your convention experience incorrectly.

While the inclination may be to travel in a relaxed fashion in comfortable attire, every interaction should be treated as potential business, and this means dressing and acting as you would on the convention floor. Most working professionals will tell you they would trade a few unpleasant hours for a newly minted contract.

Exhibit A
For many companies, a large portion of their annual budget is dedicated to their annual conference or convention. While investing in a booth setup can prove costly, it can also prove lucrative when the convention floor closes.
A booth gives your company a physical presence throughout the convention and exponentially increases your visibility compared to the alternative of conversations and business card exchanges in the aisles.

Curiosity will often bring attendees to your booth to see what you’re all about, and as such, it should be managed by your most customer service savvy staff. Arrive early each day and ensure everything is in working order by the time the convention hall opens. Create a schedule with time-blocks that corresponds with the daily convention activities so you can plan one-on-one meetings with any potential clients away from the hustle and bustle of the booth.

Follow-up
You return home exhausted from multiple days of non-stop presentations, long hours working the booth in the exhibit area, and networking with your colleagues in the industry—but your work has only just begun.

Your mindset upon returning home should be one of “they met me, and they met my competition.” Separate yourself from the pack. Email your new contacts and offer dates and times to continue your conversation.

Regardless of your industry, or your status within it, your calendar should include the dates that you’re attending at least one conference or convention. It will boost your standing as a company and as an individual. Networking is a cornerstone of business, and a convention or conference is the premiere medium to make the most of your efforts.

Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email mail@prpr.net for a free consultation.

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