It’s that time of year when leaflets come flicking out of magazines, posters confront you at every turn and emails hit your inbox daily advertising another ‘not-to-be-missed’ exhibition, show or seminar. To some they are a great skive or day out of the office, but what they can be is golden business opportunities and if you plan to attend one this summer make sure you make the most of it. Here are 6 tips to ensure your planned ‘day out’ is productive and more than just a change of scenery:
Plan your visit
Is there an event brochure? A website with exhibitor and speaker details? Read up on who will be there before you leave. How do you think you may benefit from speaking with these people if you get a chance when you get there? Look at the planned seminars and speaking slots. What do you hope to get from listening and attending? Do you have any questions you may want to ask of the speaker at the end of the session?
See who else may be there
As well as the listed people, there will be others in your industry or relevant people who will be attending. Could they be useful or helpful to you? You may even already know some of them. Is it worth renewing acquaintances? If the event has a website it may also have a twitter stream and an event hashtag. Search these and see who is interacting. Is it worth beginning a conversation on social before you attend and even setting up a meeting with these people for when you both arrive on the day of the event?
Prepare your contact channels
If you do meet people at the event, they will no doubt want to know how to get in contact with you. Go armed with a set of business cards that hold up to date contact information on them – cards with crossed out mobile numbers don’t set the right impression. Remember others will go away and Google you too. Make sure that before you attend you have updated all of your profiles on each social channel you can be found on. Ideally link them altogether so that finding you post-event is less of a chore for a potential customer.
Enjoy the day when there
Don’t plan your trip so that it becomes a regimented traipse around an exhibition hall, doomed to disappointment when a particular person you wanted to speak to has popped off for lunch. Identify who you want to see and what you may want information on but do go with the flow too. Relaxing and enjoying the day will make it easier to network and more productive in the long run.
However good your memory, these sorts of days can lead to information overload very quickly. Take a notebook, even a laptop or tablet to keep notes of the nuggets of wisdom you learn so you can refer back to them. Using a Dictaphone or recording on your smartphone is a good idea if there is a particular speaker you know you want to see, so you can concentrate on what they say without worrying about taking notes too.
Plan your follow ups
Even before you go, think about how you will be putting your attendance to good use upon your return to the office. Scheduled some time in your diary for a few days after the event so you can follow-up with leads and contacts. You can even prepare a standard follow-up email that you can use as a template to be personalised post-event. Research suggests it can take as many as six follow-ups before being able to convert these sort of leads, so each impression needs to be a good one.
Next week is the Business Start Up Show at ExCeL, London on 15th and 16th May 2014 and 123-reg will be there with a team of experts on Stand 1908. Entry is free and you can pre-register for speedier admission when you arrive and then concentrate on making the most of your day out. Full information including speakers, workshops, opening times, directions etc can be found at www.bstartup.com.