We all seem to be at ease and comfortable with networking through social media avenues. But, believe it or not, good old face to face networking is still number one for getting and keeping clients. And one place where you can really shine is networking at conventions. It is a great way to garner new business and make yourself known.
You can follow some easy steps so that your networking has the best possible success. These steps can help you get superior results for your time and effort. Whether you are an employee, business owner, or freelancer, it pays to know how to be a hit at conventions and return with a laptop full of leads
Networking at Conventions — What’s Important?
- Body language
- Facial expression
- Industry knowledge
- Level of professional behavior
- Promotional materials offered
- Any contact before the event
The goal of networking is to build up contacts in your industry and meet people who may become customers later on. If you do not take advantage of the networking opportunities that you get, your company will not become as successful as it could be. So make the most of the time that you spend networking.
1. Start Early when it comes to Networking at Conventions
Networking at conventions should be started well ahead of the actual event. Many venues and event organizers make information available that can help you network well before the day that the event starts. Contact others who will be attending and start reaching out early. This will help you make contact with more people and give you better results.
2. Take Advantage of Email
Email can help with your networking at conventions. This electronic method of communication is fast, convenient, and easy to use. Try to obtain a list of attendees and then send each one an email introducing yourself. Recipients will be more likely to remember you and seek you out during the actual event. An email can also help break the ice.
Include a picture of yourself in your email signature too. This will help others recognize you at conventions and trade shows.
3. Consider Printing Unique Business Cards Ahead of the Event
Printing unique business cards can be a great way to get noticed and help people remember who your company is.
There are several different types of business cards that will stand out from a stack full of typical cards.
- Thick stock. Paper stock now comes in weights as thick as a credit card. People will have no problem feeling the difference.
- Die cut cards. Have you ever seen a business card with a shape cut out? It can be your logo or even a circle on a fold over card that gives a peak at what is inside
- Print on the front and back. This is an easy way for your business to be noticed no matter what side is turned up.
- Textured stock. We’ve come a long way from when a linen stock was the sign of luxury. There are now stocks that feel like suede, leather, and satin.
- Special effects. Oh, the choices! You can choose metallic inks, embossing, foil, and more. This is a great chance to show the branding style you want to communicate.
This might seem obvious…but if you want to have new and unique business cards for the convention, remember that you should order the cards as early as possible. Sometimes out of the ordinary cards take longer than usual to print and deliver.
If you’re willing to get a little more creative, you can print onto all sorts of different materials including transparent plastics, metals, wood and even slate.
Source: Creative Bloq
4. Introduce Yourself to Others Properly During the Event
When you are networking at conventions, make sure that you properly introduce yourself to each person that you are meeting for the first time. Remember to smile and offer a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact with the individual during the introduction.
Heads up women. A droopy handshake that you think is feminine or…well, I don’t know what you think, is a sure fire way to lose a sale. If you don’t have enough strength to muster a firm handshake, you appear weak and incompetent.
5. Get to the Point and Keep it Short
No one comes to a trade show or convention to hear about what you had for breakfast. Everyone is at the event to meet as many people as possible so keep that in mind. Prepare a few questions and short topics you want to convey and don’t be tempted to stray from those. Respect the other person’s time and know when to move on.
6. Listen to Others and Pay Attention
Networking at conventions is about listening as well as talking. Listen to what others are saying and pay attention. Keep your focus on the conversation and make mental notes about who the individual is and what they do.
If you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to ask them to clarify. It is a lot better than walking away misinterpreting the crux of the conversation.
7. End the Contact Politely
If you find yourself with someone and there is not any mutual interest then politely excuse yourself and gracefully walk away. Knowing when and how to cut a conversation short will allow you to meet more people who may be more suited to you and your company.
Don’t feel compelled to justify your exit, it’s no big deal. “I have to talk to so-and-so”.
8. Pay Attention to Associations between Attendees for Better Networking Opportunities
When you are networking at conventions pay attention to who associates together. Sometimes networking with a lower level employee will give you access to higher positions in the company.
A good administrative assistant will know exactly when the boss is available. They also often communicate to their superior their first impression – so make sure yours is a good one.
9. Always Follow Up After the Event
Sales do not typically take place on the first meeting – not even at conventions. More often than not it takes a series of interactions before a sale is closed. Make a plan and be sure to follow it. This keeps you fresh in the mind of the potential new customer and helps them to remember you in a positive light.
10. Multi-media Contacts
Now that you have a multitude of new leads in your arsenal, you can contact them through several different channels. Now is when social media comes in to play, as well as email, and even good old-fashioned snail mail.
These after convention communications can include offering special deals, preferred discounts, or even just letting them know the current news in your industry.
Networking at conventions is a great way to meet others in your industry and generate leads when you do it right. Have any more tips for networking at conventions? Share your thoughts in the comments!