A convention is an opportunity to train, to meet friends, associates or other professional networks. Above all, it is an opportunity to find new partners, who have come in numbers to seek the same thing as you. Let’s see how best to prepare for your next congress or trade show.
To be successful at your professional convention, you need to be prepared for three periods: before the convention, during the convention and after the convention.
Preparing for a convention
Define your objective
Ask yourself these questions:
– Who do I want to approach?
– What do I want to learn?
– What information do I need?
Define your program
Depending on the program provided by the organization, identify the elements that are essential to achieve your goal. What are the conferences, round tables, booths or other things you must see at all costs?
Identify key people
From the list of speakers and registrants (if you have access to it), who do you choose to target first? Target between 3 and 10 people (depending on the duration of the congress, your time and your motivation).
Search for information and prepare the contact
For each of these priority targets, look for and find information that will help you make contact: their news, their hobbies, their needs, the contacts you have in common with them, etc.
Get in virtual contact
If you are able to contact these key people before the conference you will already have established a link that will allow you to break the ice and approach them more easily at the conference or trade show. Use social media in particular: it is easy to send a friendly and professional message using Twitter, LinkedIn or Viadeo for example. If your contact has a blog, leave a few comments and send them an email to let them know that you will both be attending the same conference.
Be efficient during the convention
This step seems the simplest and yet it is often the one we get lost in! It’s all about keeping your goals and strategy in mind! Stay focused on the key people you are targeting. Of course you must remain open and courteous to other people. Only sometimes you may have to cut some conversations short to make sure you have time to address your targets. Remember also that you have to be able to improvise and that providence makes unexpected contacts more interesting than planned ones.
Leveraging contacts made at the conference
It is once the gathering is over that you have to transform the trial! Even if the contact has been perfect with a potential partner, you must not stop there. All too often we put away accumulated business cards in a drawer, folder or box and only take them out again when we need a particular person.
Here’s how to do it:
1) Add the new contacts to your calendar or database.
2) send a thank-you note to the people we discussed with
3) identify 3 to 5 priority contacts (more or less depending on his time)
4) send value to these priority contacts: for example, information they were missing (within 10 days after the congress)
5) propose a meeting to these priority contacts
By offering them solutions (step 4) you prove to them that they benefit from seeing you: you’ve already given them something before you even ask for anything.
Good preparation is the key to a successful conference! Take the time to establish your strategy and identify what resources you have at your disposal to develop new partnerships. Know what type of partners you are targeting, what you have to offer them and how you will approach them.