Conferences are an integral part of business and commercial activities. A conference serves as an effective tool to network, negotiate business, build professional contacts, relationship building, knowledge sharing, exploring tie-ups, exploiting synergies and expanding business.
Attending a conference generally involves flying to a destination, engaging in networking for several days and also simultaneously managing your work through mails and phone calls which you have to do as you are not present in your office. This tends to take your attention off with meeting and connecting people in the conference for which you have especially flown to attend !
So it is important to make the most of attending a conference with the following tips:
- Know the schedule of the conference. Studying the schedule beforehand will enable you you to effectively plan your activities and you will get the most out of the conference. For example, you can see the lunch time slot and decide how many calls you can comfortably make to your office and prioritize the most important ones.
- Do some homework on the participants likely to attend. Often it happens you will go with an expectation of meeting some high potential clients or experts in the conference. But all you may find is a bunch of retired and out of business blokes. Even the best conference will have such people. Do some prior study and simply avoid meeting with them or even exchanging cards with them. Focus and find the most suitable business persons suiting your goals and spend your precious time fruitfully on them.
- Check the specific dress code required and pack your wardrobe accordingly. As they say, in Rome, be like the Romans. Blend with the people in the conference and increase your acceptability. For example, if you are from India and attending a conference in France, try to dress yourself as per that country norms.
- Collate all the business cards that you have received in the conference and put the data in an excel sheet or any other database which you maintain. Tag each one with the level of business importance it has for you. Put a small comment about the person with respect to his attitude, receptivity and his specific offering. Write in detail what business benefit can be derived from him.
- Stay away from collecting information which is general with the thought that it might be helpful in future. Remember Pareto’s Principle that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. Focus on those 20% participants who will be 80% relevant to your business.
- No matter how high profile a conference is, the food served will be from a commercial entity. In other words, it won’t be home made as per your specific needs. Thoroughly understand the food arrangements and plan accordingly. Stick to light vegan meals. Avoid desserts, fried and other heavy food which might make you dull and affect your alertness level. If possible carry your own food such as biscuits with less calories, healthy energy bars, dry fruits, healthy herbal tea bags, fruits. This will aid in keeping you healthy and lessen your chances of falling ill due to unhealthy or high calorie food.
- Check the Linkedin profiles of people you meet and immediately send them invite to connect. This will save you from lot of hassle on remembering about them.
- If you have connected well with someone, build up a personal relationship and invite him over to business lunch in your office. Generally, good connections nurtured in initial stages, quickly become enriching and rewarding. A conference is a place you will find such people more likely.
- If you are going to speak in the conference, please make sure adequate arrangements have been made for translators, hand notes and printouts. Study and understand your audience beforehand and decide accordingly. Many great business opportunities have been lost due to lack of translation services. China, Japan, Middle East have many big business houses where most people prefer local language. Understand this point and capitalise on their comfort factor.
- It is certainly not compulsory to attend all the days of the conference. Pick and choose the best days or time slots relevant to you and act accordingly.
These are simple points to follow. But they will help you a long way to go and make the most of the conference. Happy Networking !