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Getting the Most Out of Conferences for Your Business
  • 29 May 2018
  • Rebecca Delaney

Getting the Most Out of Conferences for Your Business

Attending a conference or an expo can be enormously beneficial to a small business owner or entrepreneur – whether as a tradeshow participant or attendee.

You can learn more about new trends in your industry. You can meet with clients or potential customers in a more informal setting and build relationships. And you can network with other small business owners who have the same passions and interests you do. Following are some tips for getting the most out of conferences and expos so that you return with some new contacts, clients, or inspirational ideas that can help move your small business to the next level.

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Set up meetings before you arrive

With a busy schedule of keynote speakers, sessions, and networking events, it's easy to become overwhelmed when you attend a conference. Do your research beforehand. Find out who will be attending and contact potential customers, current clients, or thought leaders in your field who you would like to talk to. Set up meetings, maybe over breakfast or lunch. One easy way to do this is to follow the conference's Facebook page or Twitter handle before you leave to see who is attending. Placing these meetings in both of your calendars before the craziness of the conference even starts will ensure you have some face time with the people important to the marketing and growth of your business.

Do not hide in your booth.

It sounds simple, but leave your booth space! The whole intent behind attending conferences is to network, learn, sell and get new ideas. Find someone to cover your booth and walk around and meet other vendors, check out what your competition is doing, and what potential companies might be of interest to your business.

Pack plenty of business cards to use when you are out networking on the conference floor. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs come away from a conference feeling reinvigorated and ready to implement new ideas that they just picked up at a session or from talking with a colleague.

Sign up for conference activities and speaking opportunities.

Most expos and conferences have hundreds, if not thousands of attendees who are interested in some aspect of your industry. Take this valuable opportunity to get your name or your business in front of potential clients and customers by sponsoring a snack break at the conference or a cocktail party when the sessions are over for the day, if your budget allows. Getting your name out there can help bring credibility to your business and ultimately lead to more brand awareness and business.

Follow up

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After the conference, remember to contact those prospective clients or colleagues you just met through short follow-up emails and LinkedIn requests. The first few days after the conference is best, while the event is still fresh in people's minds and they haven’t yet been swept back into the day-to-day operations of their own businesses.

While you're networking and attending sessions, don't forget to have some fun! Conferences are a great way for business owners to learn more about their industry and meet prospects, but they can also be enjoyable and inspirational. Be sure to take the time to attend a cocktail reception and meet new people, even if he or she is not a potential or current customer. You never know—maybe the conversation could lead to your next great business idea!

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