By Madeleine Marston, Friday Street Events
Organising attendance for your brand at an exhibition or conference is a huge undertaking – and normally involves several members of a team, not to mention some external support.
To share my ten year’s worth of recommendations now, would be over-extending myself on the word count I have agreed! But here are five top tips for conference event success from my company, Friday Street Events.
Number one is DON’T throw huge sums of money at an over-designed, beautiful stand and then hope that this will do the networking, brand awareness and data collection for you. Events are about people. So the most important bit is who you have representing your brand. You need people who like people, those who are good at dinner party small talk, empathetic people e.g. when the audience is Mums, have Mums on your stand talking about your product.
Event chat is 90% small talk and 10% actual business talk. Give your stand’s personnel the time to find out a little about the event, the people, the location, e.g. at an event in Harrogate, make sure your team can recommend Betty’s Fat Rascals!
The second tip is stand location. Everyone wants the central aisle or the spot right next to the entrance. Yet, how often do you visit a foreign city and eat in the restaurant right in the middle of the main square? You don’t, because it’s over priced and a tourist trap. You go for the restaurant just off the main drag, on a corner with seating outside. Event floor-plans are no different.
Tip number three… Identify what you want to walk away with, as a brand from the event: data, sales, partnerships, brand awareness, plan activity accordingly. Talk to the organizers and let them know your objectives. They can help you promote pre show, if you don’t have a good event, you won’t be back, so it’s in their interests.
The fourth tip is one you know…. don’t think when you leave the venue, it’s over. Back in the office the next project is looming, all the stuff you didn’t do whilst you were at the event needs prioritizing. Yet you have data, you have met people who showed an interest in your brand. These are your sales leads for the next 6 months; they’re your brand ambassadors for the next year. Make the first call. It’s not like the 2nd date syndrome…who is going to call first? Don’t waste your time waiting …contact them straight away.
The fifth tip …is about your sanity either on a stand or as an event visitor….good shoes. A 15 mile hill walk never gives you the tired feet and legs that a day at Excel can. If possible, pack a sneaky pair of trainers into coat check. Failing that it’s almost imperative that you leave the event and go to the first bar for a tired foot-relieving beverage. But be warned everyone else you have been at the event with, will be there as well. So be careful what you say and what you drink, you never know who is listening and who is watching!
Do you want to know more? Friday Street Events can run event-training sessions or manage an event for you, to guarantee success. Madeleine Marston is Director at Friday Street Events, any comments let her know.
Rather than nurse a Jägermeister-infused hangover, in the hope of making a new connection for next year, I’ve stopped walking around town at Christmas time in a Santa hat sticking my business card to people’s foreheads. Instead I am finding out what is important to a few close people in the New Year, and taking a real interest in connecting them.
This time last year, I was walking through Buenos Aries listening to a podcast about blogging. The guy being interviewed said the simplest thing yet: “I blog to reply to the questions people ask me about my product” – boom! How easy is that? And there I was looking to come up with the next Clue Train Manifesto every week.
My point is writing something constructive, educational and helpful for the web means you are saving time and making a connection. There is a strong case that the value we create is directly linked to how much worthy content we can produce. I still have a long way to go, but these days I send people a blog about something, and that comes back to me, people share it and learn something far deeper about me than when I got the next drinks round in, which was not that often anyway…
I was at a Christmas networking event many years ago and was giving my business card to everyone, including the bartender, the toilet attendant and the waiter. After shooting the breeze with a guy and telling him how cool what he did was, he looked me right in the eye and asked me, “Are you sure you want me to call you on Monday?” What he really meant was “You are saying ‘call me’ because you don’t know how to say that you are not interested”. I thought, “Wow! I bet that guy has a lot more time in his day than most people.”
So, if you’re thinking about networking opportunities this Christmas, here are my top five tips.
1. Don’t waste your time having your business card stuck to everyone’s forehead this Christmas; in fact, just forget selling for a moment…
2. Catch up with some people that you already know, maybe some contacts you haven’t made as much time for recently as you would have liked.
3. Identify five people you really want to do business or work with and get time in their 2013 diaries now – they’re probably free, but leave the first week clear.
4. If you are at a Christmas party, leave your smartphone in in your pocket/handbag. Always remember, Twitter and alcohol don’t mix!
5. Reflect on your year and consider some of the great people you’ve met. Think about writing a round-up blog post and include some of them – and then let them know they’ve been included. It’s a nice way of reminding them about you.
However you’re celebrating the Christmas break, make it count – 2013 is going to be a cracker.
Bernie Mitchell is owner of Engaging People, an agency dedicated to helping businesses join the dots between what happens online and offline. He is also the organiser of a host of regular events and workshops, including TagTribe, the Late Late Breakfast Show and London Bloggers’ Meetup.
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