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Game On! Five Tips for a Successful Conference

Gwendolyn F. Turner

 

This is a guest post by Gwendolyn F. Turner. Gwendolyn is a recognized leader in business development and corporate social responsibility.  Gwen helps organizations grow through strategic development, and to achieve their social missions.

 

Game On!  Five Tips for a Successful Conference

By Gwendolyn F. Turner

Conferences can be intimidating places for Small Business owners.  They are often overwhelming in size and heavy on content.   Although conferences can be difficult to master they are a great investment for business owners.    This is your opportunity to create relationships in person with key leaders and decision makers. It’s your time to shine.  Your time at conferences is only as valuable as you make it.  Your attitude plus preparation will determine success. 

Here are five tips that will insure a successful conference that will deliver a great return on your investment.

  1. Start Early.  Prior to the conference selectively send emails introducing or reintroducing yourself to key prospects and connections. Be brief, simply inform them that you will be attending the conference and you are looking forward to connecting with them.  For strategic connections suggest a time and place to catch up.   Do your homework on the conference.  You should understand the conference schedule, know who the strategic conference sponsors are and make note of dignitaries attending the conference. 
  2. Create your Prospect List.  This step is essential to saving time at the conference.  You will be tempted to visit booths and shake the hands of as many people possible.  Create a solid prospect list of 7-10 companies that you must meet before the end of the conference.  Focus on your prospect list and also engage new opportunities.  As you meet people that are not on your prospect list add them to your list so you remain mindful of your new connections.  Keep your cards handy and even if people do not have cards or they give you generic company cards – always get names and email addresses.  This will help you with direct follow up. 
  3. Develop your pitch.  As an experienced corporate executive I value a well-developed business pitch.  More important than the pitch itself is the confidence you have in delivering the pitch.  In short descriptive words you should be able to answer the following:  Who you are, your core capabilities, and your value drivers.  Practice your pitch before the conference, it will help you build the confidence needed and make a significant impression on the receiver of the information. 
  4. Engage your Prospects:  Understanding the needs of your potential clients is important to your success.  Creating and building trust with your prospects will allow them to be transparent about business challenges and how you can assist them.  Use the conference to schedule time with your prospects to talk about how your firm can be valuable and how to follow up effectively.  Review the conference schedule for free time – schedule, lunch, dinner, coffee and cocktails during conference down time.   During your networking time with executives use it to connect on the following; Current business issues, organizational transitions and how your firm can be valuable in the future. 
  5. Debrief each day:  Every day of your conference will yield valuable connections and information.  Make time at the end of each day to journal your key learning, new connections, follow-up and unique business opportunities.  It’s important to journal each day so that you remember to capture every valuable encounter, connection and revelation. 

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